I have written often of the deep connection I feel between my laziness and my productivity.
I came to writing significantly later than most of my peers. I have no ‘formal education’ in writing, I didn’t study writing in college, I wasn’t very good at school. But I always had these obsessions and interests and excitements, particularly around music. And for me that meant that for a long time, because I wasn’t a writer, those things were just building, and I would store them. I kind of have an internal archive of excitements and I did not always have access to a place for them….
I constantly sit on a lot of ideas. So what that means for me is that I have to be disciplined and kind of thoughtful.
I’m very lazy!
I think there are multiple kinds of people in the world: There are people who are hard-working and disciplined. There are people who are hard-working but pretty un-disciplined — so there’s a scattershot way their work appears in the world. And me, I’m pretty lazy, but I’m very disciplined. Perhaps more disciplined, I would guarantee, than anyone you know.
Satterfield asks him how somebody can be both lazy and disciplined.
They act in opposition to each other, right?
So the laziness is kind of inherent. Which means that I know that left to my own devices, I would do nothing. I would prefer to do nothing. And I don’t mean nothing in the sense of like, replying-to-an-email nothing, I mean literally, not-getting-out-of-bed nothing.
I was an athlete. I played basketball, I played soccer in college. So I had to learn a type of discipline, because my love for what I was doing propelled me towards that discipline.
Suzan-Lori Parks, a playwright who I adore, says this thing about how discipline is simply a love for your big self. And that’s kind of the path that I follow, because I’m driven to get the things I’m excited about out of my head. Because I don’t know how good they do me — just me in the world — if they’re only in my head.
And that isn’t saying that everyone needs to see them, it just means that there has to be some kind of extraction process that fuels and excites me. Writing does that. Writing about music, specifically, does that.
I can be in opposition to my inherent laziness, and build a discipline around, not even the work of writing, but the work of joyful extraction. And to present it like that, and to put it like that, offers me a better runway to it.
And I cannot stay in bed, because I would much rather be in pursuit of some revelation that might arrive to me in the process of doing this work.
So that’s how I act in opposition to my own laziness.
There’s so much there, and so many phrases I want to clip and build whole pieces out of, like, “an internal archive of excitements” and “joyful extraction.” It’s also impossible for me not to try to read an Ohio thing into it. (Hanif and I were born the same year and grew up about 45 minutes away from each other.)
I also want to join Hanif’s Church Of Minding One’s Own Business. Elsewhere he has said, “My superpower is that I mind my own business. And I actually think that helps my productivity more than anything.”
Filed under: laziness