When Neil Gaiman sits down to write, he gives himself two options;
“You can sit here and write or you can sit here and do nothing, but you can’t sit here and do anything else”
He described this as the biggest rule of his writing practice on a recent episode of the Tim Ferris show.
In an age where distraction is easier to access than ever before, this simple nugget of wisdom is immensely valuable.
The beauty in his method is that Neil gives himself permission not to write if he doesn’t want to, making the decision to write an active choice.
“I’m absolutely allowed not to do anything. I’m allowed to sit at my desk. I’m allowed to look out at the world. I’m allowed to do anything I like, as long as isn’t anything…
All I’m allowed to do is absolutely nothing, or write.“
After a time, Neil ensures us, writing becomes a more interesting proposition than doing nothing. Then you do it.
If you make the decision to write because it’s the most interesting thing you can do, you’re going to feel better than if you’re writing because you feel like you have to.
It’s simple. Its beautiful. And it translates to everything.
Got a book you’ve been meaning to finish? Sit down with it, and do nothing.
Until you want to read.
No checking your phone. No turning on the TV.
You read, or you do nothing.
I’m using this to gamifiy my writing process, and it’s wonderful.
I’d love to know whether it works for you.