As you can see from my impressively non-existent upload schedule, I have, over months of intensive study, finally reached that coveted pinnacle of ‘doing nothing at all useful’ and am now quite the expert with regards to achieving basically nil. As I know you all strive towards such levels of apathetic inactivity here I will exclusively share with you my handy guide to getting nothing done. So you too can bask in the crippling defeatism of producing bugger all.
Step 1. Have too many ideas.
Some people recommend the alternate technique of having ‘no ideas’, but what I personally find truly ensnares you in absolutely inextricable inertion is to have ideas, followed by ideas and then some more ideas. Multitudinous Ideas - half-formed, temptingly beauteous and ultimately fleeting - are really the way to go.
The key here is to never really start any particular one of them but to instead get firmly caught up in the indecision of it all. You open a document for this, get the necessary equipment for that, but you never do anything substantive, godforbid finish something.
You can have ideas for a business (the lack of who’s present existence you exclaim your disbelief in), you can see someone else doing something and spend many a sweet hour dwelling on the merry concept of how you would do their thing differently ...if you ever did anything at all these days. Or you can simply dream of bookshelf tours, of scripts unwritten, of liltingly lyrical literary podcasts. So much so, that when you sit down to write something, you write nothing. You have so many ideas that you functionally have no ideas and now you exist in a limbo of indecision where instead of doing any amount of work on anything, you simply internally agonise.
Step 2. Never be realistic about how long anything takes.
Imagine a standard Wednesday evening. Why haven’t you made a video this Wednesday evening? (Let alone gone running, cooked a healthy meal, sorted out your taxes and patched the pile of dresses, which have been sitting there hole-y for over two years now?) Never mind that you finally stumbled home, gone nine o’clock, frazzled from a, sadly, pretty standard work-day in which it turned out Australia needed your accounts last week, it was imperative your filing be reordered according to a different alphabet, and a customer bawled down the phone at you because your premier store in Stockton-on-Tees only carries one kind of yoghurt. The, apparently, wrong kind of yoghurt.
Still, you were vaguely thinking you might have time this evening to get the day’s/week’s/month’s video filmed (then edited and uploaded) but by the time you’ve heaped laundry, paid rent, booked doctors, hm-ed at phones- you realise going to bed now will mean you get, maybe, four hours of sleep? ...before you have to be up early in the morning to bright and shine your way through it all again.
So here you are once more, lying amid tangled bedding, not actually sleeping at all. Because, what have you done today really? Basically nothing, right? You lie there furious at yourself, for yet again wasting your entire evening. And essentially your entire life.
Which brings us to Step Three: Guilt.
Engulfing yourself in guilt is a core mantra by which to continue your fruitless existence. Fully embrace that corrosive self-hatred and be sure to constantly compare yourself to some imagined idea of perfect humans, as seen on an Instagram feed near you.
When you’re properly steeped in assurances of your worthlessness, any glimpse of others’ achievements is simply a reminder of your failings. Meaning, you can’t watch others’ videos without the inner monologue berating you for your lack. Meaning, you stop conversations and responses and you’re out of the wash of it all. Meaning, you stop having further ideas, or inspiration, or motivation of any kind, because you have isolated yourself completely.
Berate yourself hourly over all you’re not doing, over why you never learnt German, haven’t continued your oboe practice, didn’t apply for/try for/lose that, job/relationship/weight.
Step 4. It’s been too long to go back now.
You’ve forgotten how to do things. You have delayed and put off and wriggled-out for so long that you have literally forgotten how it used to work. Did it used to work? You wonder if you can just lose the ability to write, or if you could actually never really write in the first place, and space from it has only made you see clearly how dreadful you always were.
Plus it would be embarrassing to sidle back now. What will everyone say? What if there’s no one left to say anything? You’ve done too much damage to repair.
Don’t pick an idea out of the tumultuous tempest, even an idea satirising the concept of picking ideas. Don’t stumblingly start, a step at a time, to piece together the vaguest of frameworks, and agonisingly, and achingly slowly, begin to fill in the gaps. Don’t have friends sit with you in cafes encouraging you, and reading over your work, and offering advice and support and reassurances. Strictly don’t continue when it gets hard, and definitely don’t ask for help when you need it. Think about all the things that could go wrong, and all the reasons why you’re too inept and unqualified to achieve anything ever, and never, ever, just go ahead and try it all anyway.