Monday, November 8, 2010

Gutfeld on the Nature of Sloth

Blogger Greg Gutfeld discusses the nature of sloth over at Big Hollywood. Excerpt:
So I've been working on a book proposal, but going nowhere. I start the thing, then I stop. Instead of loafing around, I move into a more deceptive realm: I pretend to do something.

In the old days, this was called "sloth." We used to link sloth with lying around in one's own filth. But that's wrong. I read a bunch on sloth -- which, I know, may defeat the purpose of sloth -- but, according to Daniel Rosenberg, in a magazine called Cabinet, sloth was originally defined as "unregulated curiosity." That sloppy need ends up as pointless work -- which is worse than doing nothing, because you think you're doing something.
Read the whole thing (but be forewarned that the site has a rather aggressively libertarian bent). Gutfeld muses upon "that guy you know who has a crapload going on ... [b]ut nothing he does matters." That, to me, nails one of the primary pitfalls of creativity: Difficulty in focusing seems the name of the game. For examply, the manuscripts in the Work In Progress folder on my computer seem to be multiplying like rabbits -- and never quite maturing beyond a second draft. There's always the siren call of some other imaginative pursuit, another plot to outline, another podcast to listen to, another blog to peruse. Such activities fire my mind with ideas, but how much good do they really do if I allow them to drag me away from a project after a measly fifteen minutes of work? It's an endless juggling act, and it makes wonder. How can one train the creative mind to focus when its basic bent is to slothfully slide from one idea to another?

(Picture: CC 2004 by
Praziquantel)

14 comments:

Taryn Tyler said...

That is a very inteeresting idea. And a bit timely for me. I've been trying to cut back on my amount of projects in order to actually get some done but its dificult deciding which ones to put away when their all dancing around in your head.

Loren Eaton said...

It really is. The temptation to move on to something new when a currect project becomes difficult is hard for me to resist. I keep a commonplace book, which does help a little bit, though.

C. N. Nevets said...

Duly noting the irony of mentioning this on a blog to which I was linked from my own blog, and which I also follow on Twitter...

But I think (deep breath) that the apparition which we call platform-building is a noble variation on this theme.

Loren Eaton said...

Yeeeeaaaah, about that ...

Seriously, I blog much less for anything related to platform building than becase I enjoy genre fiction and writing; and because I want to keep my hand in the non-fiction game.

I really hope that isn't slothful.

C. N. Nevets said...

Yeah, I had two nervous breakdown when I was trying to platform-build. Then I realized that except for a few scenarios (none of which include me or my writing at this point), the whole platform-building thing is essentially a myth that does little more than enshrine distraction and please a few tech-minded agents.

heh

There's my grouch for today.

Loren Eaton said...

Hey, now, we don't want a grumpy Nevets. We want a Nevets bursting with good cheer so that he is energized to write more of those disturbing first-person narratives about people who want to do us in with drills and canes and other sundry everyday objects.

C. N. Nevets said...

Insect spray, as a matter of fact.

Oops.

Spoiler. :)

Chestertonian Rambler said...

My hat is off to Loren.

This is quickly becoming a blog where the comments beneath are as amusing and interesting as the content itself.

Unless, of course, said content is a perfect LeGuin quote that needs no commentary.

This has been my daily sloth; time to ramble more productively.

Loren Eaton said...

Nevets,

I'm definitely going to have to read that one ...

Loren Eaton said...

CR,

No, no, my hat is off to you all, because I regularly find your asides far more interesting than anything I write, which is simultaneously humbling and engaging.

C. N. Nevets said...

You shall certainly have that opportunity. :)

Scattercat said...

Personally, I try to maintain a very strict policy in which I'm literally not allowed to work on anything other than the current project until it is done, where "done" means "finished" or "broken and beyond salvation." This uses the fun of starting a new project as a goad to get the old one out of the way. Stories that remain unfinished are those that, for whatever reason, will never BE finished, at least in their current incarnations. (Idea reuse is just responsible stewardship of neurons, I say.)

Loren Eaton said...

Nevets,

I am looking forward to it, sir!

Loren Eaton said...

SC,

That's a pretty good policy. Currently, I have about six unfinished pieces sitting in my "Work In-Progress" folder, and they're driving me mad.