Let’s Talk with Debra H Goldstein

Wasting Time
by Debra H. Goldstein

I waste a lot of time playing Solitaire, Spider Solitaire, FreeCell, Pyramid, and TriPeaks. These games came with my laptop and I consciously chose not to disable them.

Sometimes I tell myself, I’ll play one game of solitaire and if my score is over 6 points, whatever I’m thinking about – whether I will have a good writing day, whether people will like my work, whether I will address anything on my to-do list – will be answered in the affirmative. Five points is close but will take some extra work. Anything less is a resounding “no.”

I do the same thing with Spider Solitaire, with one exception. Instead of measuring my private response in terms of “yes” or “no,” I see whether it takes me more than four minutes to resolve the deck. Over four minutes is a failure. Closer to three is a real winner.

Occasionally, I tell myself I need to write, but I don’t think I can be successful at it until I’ve played and won one of each of the five games.

If I figure two to five minutes per game balanced against each level of expertise the games tell me I’ve achieved, I probably have wasted more than the time it would take me to write 1000 words a day for several weeks. Intellectually, I understand what I’m not accomplishing, but I can’t seem to help myself. The card games take control of me.

Or do they? My first instinct is to announce they are a complete waste of time; but, in reality, I use these moments for working out sticky points in my work in progress, thinking about how my characters should and will behave in different situations, and observing the people around me. Once the issue is resolved, my writing flows.

What about you? Do you waste time doing something that seems completely illogical to your writing career or to your life? Is it?

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Comments

  1. Martha Lawson says

    I waste entirely too much time on the games that you mentioned! I also play Candy Crush, and 2 more related candy crush games (they never take long, I’m so bad at it!!)

  2. maggietoussaint says

    For me, early morning goofing off is sanctioned because it clears my mind from real life and sets the stage for my book characters. I view my morning routine as a way to come to the keyboard in the right frame of mind. Some days it just takes longer!

  3. I waste time on social media. I can get lost reading people’s posts on Facebook. That’s my go-to diversion. I like Suduko but only at night when I can’t sleep and in a print book. Sometimes it’s relaxing to play a mind game where you don’t have to think too hard. It clears the cobwebs away.

  4. Like Cheryl, I do the NY Times mini crossword every day and sometimes the daily in my local paper.

  5. Diane A.S. Stuckart says

    Happy Thanksgiving! Yes, I’m guilty of playing on my phone etc when working, but I call it “resetting my brain” and it’s important to jump-start myself occasionally. 🙂

  6. Barbara Monajem says

    I play Jumbline2 on my phone. It really does help get my brain working on the book again.

  7. TriPeaks level 15. I go there when I need a quick mental jolt after a long session of lesson planning or grading papers–before I get into the rhythm of writing. Today, I may need to go there after a long session of I’m-not-an-extrovert-time with family. Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. I use the New York Times Mini Crossword as a reward for getting my first hour of writing done. It’s an easy little one that usually only takes about five minutes. That break, along with a little walk around, helps keep my fingers flying.

  9. Doing ‘something else’ has been proven to spark creativity, unstick the mind when you’re stuck. No guilt as long as you get the book finished on time. My “distraction” used to be Mahjong Solitaire until a Windows update won’t let me play on my PC. I switched to Candy Crush, which cuts you off after five games (unless you win, which at the level I’m on, doesn’t happen often), so it’s self-limiting.

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