Diversion, FTI or accidie?

PensiveWhat is that strange feeling when you schedule work in that day, but at 6 pm and the nth cup of tea, you wonder what happened. Many people suffer from this. Especially writers, it seems.

Diversion is a word that comes up a lot. Doesn’t sound too bad: something that distracts the mind and relaxes or entertains. Indeed,  divertissement was the word for pleasant entertainment or a short interlude.

The Romans, pragmatic as ever, used divertus to signify turned aside, probably meaning a river, rather than the flow of thought. Today, many people get diverted by Twitter, so perhaps diversion is really a a time-suck.

Romans discussingProcrastination, to forward to tomorrow (pro + crastinus, of tomorrow (from cras, tomorrow). Hm. Romans again, but persistently current, especially when faced with hundreds of pages of edits… Still that deadline is a long way away, isn’t it?

As long as you haven’t succumbed to an artistic form of accidie – spiritual sloth, apathy, indifference. Sorry, can’t be bothered to finish this paragraph…

Irrespective of how you describe it, FTI is the outcome. Failure to implement was originally used in IT and possibly in economics. Now it’s one of the most often heard business buzz-words. Broken down, you get failure – not meeting a desirable or intended objective and implement – execution of a plan.

So why do we dilly-dally, drag our feet, or  heels, lollygag, stall or shilly-shally? Why are we diverted by tidying, cake-baking, gardening, fiddling under the car bonnet, spending our precious writing time on Facebook and Twitter? We should be time-managing and compartmentalising, scheduling and meeting deadlines. No?

Could it be because writing is not seen as worthy, as a proper way to spend time?
Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, and PERFIDITAS. Third in series, SUCCESSIO, is now out.

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