How to Get Anything Done, Now.

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I’m reading a great book right now (it’s #50 so far of 2014) from one of my favorite authors, Ann Patchett. Known as a novelist who has written such blockbusters as Bel Canto and State of Wonder, Patchett’s new book is a nonfiction one, entitled: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.

Now, let’s be clear: this is not the story of a marriage. Or, at least, as you and I define “marriage”. This is a story (mostly) about writing. And it is a great story indeed.

This morning, I read an amazing section that made me stop in my tracks and read it again. Patchett was explaining how to really make yourself write, when you don’t want to, which might be most of the time.

She said that to make yourself write (or to realize that you were never meant for writing), you’ve got to show up. You’ve got to sit yourself down at your desk for two hours each day without books to distract you, or an open Internet connection. You’ve just got to sit there. Doing nothing. And after a week – or maybe two – you will either start writing because you are so bored out of your mind by not writing, or you will get up out of the chair, go watch television, and never write again.

Now, I believe this advice is not limited to writing, and in reality would work for anything you’re trying to do. Trying to make yourself do that #1 thing on your list that you never actually get to because you don’t want to do it so much and you’d rather come up with a million excuses for how busy you are or how many useless errands you have to run than make yourself do it?

Here’s what you need to do:

Sit yourself in the chair, and do nothing. Day after day. Until you do that thing.

It’s worth a try.

Now, to you: How do you make yourself do that thing you don’t want to do? 


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7 thoughts on “How to Get Anything Done, Now.

  1. The thought sounds good in theory. I guess if I think about when I do procrastinate I am ussually doing something I really shouldn’t be doing, like surfing the net, reading emails, etc. So I think I will try your suggestion and just sit and do nothing…..but then when would I read great blogs like this?

  2. Claire,
    this post really resonated with me. I’ love writing and I started writing a book about my round to world tour. But I have not kept up to speed and….it’s been months since I last wrote. So I was thinking: WHY??? Why don’t we do what we (think) we love to do? I hate when I get myself watching TV instead of writing. But this is more reality then I’d like to admit.
    Two thoughts: (i) we love the result, but not the process (like I think about my book and I create passages on my mind during the shower much more than I sit to write it), hence I wish the book could, by miracle, just write itself; or (ii) I’m afraid as hell that I’ll put such a HARD work to it to, eventually, realize it is not a good book (i.e.: I’m not a good writer).
    So intriguing…

  3. Wow! Claire, thank you for sharing this. The idea is simple and revolutionary at the same time. I have to agree with Patchett because I am actually doing this right now to see if I am a writer.

  4. Hi, Claire

    Interesting tool for leaving “the comfort zone” and stop procrastinating… I’d say it is pretty ironic, isn’t it? Do nothing to have something done.

    Thanks for the tip.! 🙂

    Danilo Silva