Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Computer Solitaire is your friend

Solitaire is an invaluable aide to the writer. It really is. Why? Because it is intrinsically boring, that’s why. How is solitaire put to its natural use?

1) Need to get some work done but totally unmotivated? No problem! Just tell yourself: “I’ll just turn my laptop on and play a couple of games of solitaire — I won’t even open the working file.” But after a couple of games of solitaire, you will be bored enough to at least OPEN the manuscript file and LOOK at your manuscript, and then you will wind up fiddling with something or other, and then since you’ve started you might as well get a little work actually done — and poof! An evening that is at least moderately productive.

2) Or how about if you ARE working on your manuscript, but you are not enjoying it. Like you are working on one of those annoying boring transition scenes and you know you will probably end up cutting it anyway and yet you have to write it to get to the scene you want to write? (Surely this isn’t just me?) Or maybe you are working on some aspect of revision that particularly annoys you, like you are making sure a character is bald as an egg ALL the way through the manuscript, a very tedious job I assure you.

Solitaire to the rescue! Because you can promise yourself one (or two) games after every chapter! And even if the one (or two) games stretch out to five or six as you put off getting back to work, fundamentally solitaire is BORING and so you will be driven back to work eventually!

3) On those evenings where you actually DO play solitaire for an hour straight? Without winning a single game? You have actually used solitaire as a diagnostic tool, possibly without realizing it! You would NEVER have been able to tolerate such a boring hour if your brain was actually functioning. You were too tired to get any work done. This is confirmed because you LOST all those games. If you were coherent enough to write, you would have won at least some of the time. Since solitaire is BORING, after losing a lot of games in a row you will probably be able to tear yourself away from your computer and go to bed.

Notice that in order for solitaire to be used most effectively as a writing tool, it’s important not to have any games on your laptop that are actually fun to play. It’s also wise not to hook your laptop up to the internet.

[Yawn.] Naptime! Bye!

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