Wednesday, 19 August 2015

What is your Favourite Displacement Activity by Chris Longmuir


What do you do when the novel you are writing goes wrong? Your plot isn’t working? Your characters aren’t talking to you? Or perhaps you’re suffering from writer’s block. I’m sure some, or all of this, strikes many writers from time to time. And if you are a writer who has never been affected by any of this, then you are lucky.

This is where avoidance comes in. The reluctance to put pen to paper, or fingers on keyboard. And in order to avoid having to do this a writer may engage in some sort of displacement activity.


I have heard tell that some women writers find mounds of ironing to do, scones to bake, or house cleaning to be done. I’m afraid none of these activities appeal to me as I’m a non-domesticated animal.

One of my displacement activities is building computers. I’ve built two desktops over the years, but I refuse to build any more. The reason for this refusal is simple. Space. I would need a bigger house. But there’s nothing stopping me from upgrading the computers I have. So, I know that when I start looking online for upgrades to the components inside my computers, displacement activity is kicking in.

Talking about computers – I’m not a gamer, but I find myself drawn to Angry Birds, Hearts, or Bubble Shoot at these times. You can waste hours on these stupid games. Oh, and surfing the internet, for information on the most outlandish things, that’s a good way to keep you away from your next great novel. And I won’t go into Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.


Reading is another thing. Now, all writers read, no problem there. It’s when the volume of books to be read goes up that it becomes a problem. Has anyone noticed I’ve been adding reviews to Eclectic Electric recently. And of course when I’m writing reviews, I’m not working on my novel!


But recently I’ve found a brand new displacement activity – adult colouring books. Many years ago I fancied myself as an artist and used to draw and paint a lot, I suppose it comes with being a creative personality. So these colouring books soothed a different kind of itch to the compulsive writing one.


So, what is your favourite displacement activity? And while you’re thinking about it, can you send someone along to whip me into shape or my new book will never be finished.

Chris Longmuir



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12 comments:

Mari Biella said...

I've become an expert, world-class player of Minesweeper, Spider and Mahjong Titans, if I do say so myself 😊. And those of us who are domesticated can usually find something that urgently needs to be done, like folding linen or pulling up weeds in the garden. That I ever get any writing done is nothing short of miraculous ...

I'm impressed that you can build computers, Chris! The next time you want to avoid writing, you'd be most welcome to upgrade my ancient PC.

Wendy Jones said...

Social media and cleaning. You can tell the state if my manuscript from the state if my house

Nick Green said...

Writing is my displacement activity. But unfortunately it is too often displaced itself by chores.

Though lately, if I'm stuck for word, I have taken to picking up a guitar and trying to teach myself the basics. The sense of achievement is easier to get when just beginning a new skill. It's much harder when it's something you're already competent at.

JO said...

Cricket - not playing it, but listening to TMS. All those wonderful Test Matches in the summer. And then the 20Twenties, the ODIs ...

I try to persuade myself that a love of cricket is less a diversion than a basic obsession with the game, but actually I think it's both. (And a timely post, this, as another Test Match starts tomorrow and already I'm looking how to organise my day so I can go for a long walk with my radio!)

Chris Longmuir said...

I see I'm not alone in displacement activities. As for pulling up weeds! Are those the things that grow in my wilderness of a garden? As for the state of my house, Wendy, it's always the same, when I become incapable or kick the bucket they'll have to send the council's dirty squad in, that is if they can fight their way past the mountain of books that will greet them! Now I must investigate when the next Gadget Show series starts on the telly. I'm sure they'll have new gadgets to tempt me!

Umberto Tosi said...

My father always used to say, "procrastination is the thief of time." But it seems to be part of the writing process - a part, unfortunately, that can, as you so well put it, gobble up every other aspect. I like to cook. It doesn't have to meal time. There's always something to prepare ahead of time - stocks, mincing and chopping herbs and garlic, browning, par-boiling, etc. Or I can just open the refrigerator door and stare inside. I play chess online. Gameknot.com provides a great interface to play 15-20 games at once - each with a choice of delay time between moves (e.g. 3 days, 5 days, 10 days.) I can also go there and make a move, and try to up my cumulative score vying with players from all over the world. I try to walk every day, usually down to the lake front here in Chicago, but that probably doesn't count as displacement. And there's the newspaper and crosswords, and, oh god, Facebook and Twitter, and a couple of books I'm reading... Always something to do that seems more compelling than writing. It's amazing we get any writing done at all! But we do, somehow! :)

Bill Kirton said...

Yep, garden, woodcarving, looking out of the window pretending I'm thinking about the next plot twist, discovering an urgent need to write flash fiction instead of the WIP, drawing with water colour pencils, convincing myself of an absolute need to go and buy stuff at B&Q, making up lists such as this. In fact, it's amazing I ever get anything written at all. Just one more thought - writing is itself a displacement activity when the alternative is dusting, hoovering, and stuff like that.

Dennis Hamley said...

I'm afraid my new displacement activity is tarting up old books for Createspace. Oddly satisfying but only one-eighth creative. But now I've started I can't seem to stop. Ah well, time to go for a long walk, I suppose. Chris, I am lost in admiration of your computer-building skills. You could turn displacement activity into a new income stream, with Mari as your first customer.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Too many displacement activities if the truth be told: cleaning, gardening, social media. Seriously thinking of adding computer games to the mix as well!

Reb MacRath said...

Research...and thinking about the next book.

Anyway, I know what I want for Xmas: a laptop rebuilt by Chris. Something old and funky looking that takes off like a bat out of hell.

Lydia Bennet said...

Well reading (I can always say it's 'research'), facebook of course, cooking, doing all the bits of admin that modern life seems to create in huge amounts, socialising, and I too have recently started to use adult colouring books, with felt tips, usually while watching TV.

AliB said...

All those trashy emails - especially the holiday offers (my particular form of escapism). By the time you've clicked through to the details and read the small print(departs Stanstead 2 am) - half the day can go by :(