Work in Idleness

My last post got some response.  I was particularly interested by the comment by Frater R. O., who suggested that guilt is appropriate when one should be working, but isn’t.

I think there’s a place for idleness, though, in work.  I sometimes think that the writing process itself is built on staring at blank walls and thinking about not much in particular in a conscious sense.  But part of me just gets restless, and that’s the part that needs to calm down at the idea generation stage.

That might be why revision is becoming my favorite stage in the writing process.  The ideas are there, and the goal is just to make them clearer — it’s a more defined goal than the earlier drafting stages, and best of all, there’s obvious improvement visible as one works.  And, unlike editing, revision engages the actual ideas.

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2 Responses to “Work in Idleness”

  1. I fully recognize the favorising of the revision process. Often, when trying to write (never anything elaborate) I will start by simply dumping out everything and anything on my mind — wether relevant or not — simply so I can get to the point of looking through and improving on what’s already there.

    Also, this is my first post on your blog, so indulge me for a moment. I found my way here via your book “Postmodern Magic”, which I would like to say is one of the most inspiring reads I’ve had since Carroll (despite it being yet another primer). Keep it up!

  2. Mathematical proof of sorts to be idle.. like you need it :)

    In Thermodynamics, spontaneous changes in isolated systems occur with an increase in entropy – entropy being the measure of the unavailability of a systems energy to do work and spanteous change involves the balancing of the remaining variables within the closed system.

    That would tend to support your idea. Idleness in relation to a given topic (staring at walls) is an increase in entropy. The Idea comes, the spontaneous change which then allows the other variables within to balances themselves; Your desire to revise and make simple; to make it correct with editing; To express yourself through ideas and writting.

    Well its just a theory… Guilt or no guilt I’m sure I’ll still find time to be idle.
    :)

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