joy grabiec
joy grabiec

How to Procrastinate Wisely

joy grabiec
joy grabiec

If you’ve ever been on the Internet, chances are you’ve stumbled across a thought-provoking essay by hyperprolific writer and English professor Roxane Gay. We wanted to find out how she finds time to watch Law & Order.

If there’s a through line in my work, it’s giving a damn about the world. Whether I’m writing fiction, nonfiction, or criticism, it’s about caring enough to speak up about what I think and feel. I read a lot, and I’ll think, “I have an opinion about this.” It will start from there. I’ll cook something, and I’ll think, "I’m going to blog about this."

I’m an insomniac. Theoretically, I sleep about four or five hours a day. Sometimes I don’t sleep at all. I live in the middle of nowhere, and there’s literally nothing to do. It’s the best cure-all for work I know. If you want to write this much, just move to a very small town in Illinois.

Twitter makes me feel as if I’m in a big, communal office space. I find that chatter helps me focus. I do a lot of my best thinking on Twitter!

If I’m in my office, I’m much better at focusing, because if I’m at home, I’m like, “Oh, Ina’s on the Food Network.”

At home, I mostly work in front of the TV, so I can watch Law & Order.

I think there’s value in procrastination. I do a lot of writing in my head, doing the work mentally before I ever commit something to paper. I think our minds are telling us something about what we’re ready to do and not do.

I love listening to music while I work. I make this list called “Music,” whatever I like at the moment. Right now, it’s a lot of Beyoncé, Lorde, Haim, and some sort of BS rap, of course. And some Lady Antebellum, my favorite guilty pleasure.

I read every day. Books. With magazines, I always have good intentions, but they’re sitting in a stack on my coffee table. The one magazine I read regularly is The Believer.

I write at airports, in hotel rooms, on planes. I’m going to be on the road for the next 10 days, and I have a reading or meeting in each place. But I have a bunch of free time and I don’t know anyone, so it’s easy to write. When I’m not at home, it’s very easy to focus.

Writing online has given me a thicker skin. I can deflect an argument in a way that’s productive. I’ve learned to figure out what is valid, and that has helped me become a better rhetorician.

My next novel is called The Year I Learned Everything. People are calling it YA. It’s about a young woman who has a really transformative year; she learns about love and finding herself and overcoming her past. It’s a novel told in diary entries. I love immersing myself in her voice.

I’m trying to make more time for human interaction, away from the laptop. On Sundays, I try not to make my phone the first thing that I look at.

You have to make space in your life for writing. I love to have fun and play. But I make time for writing. It’s a significant priority for me. You have to commit. It can’t be like, “Maybe I’ll do this.” You don’t have to write every day to be a good writer, but you can’t not write every day.

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Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Sylvia Plath's Pulitzer Prize in Poetry Is Up for Auction
Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Nate D. Sanders Auctions

A Pulitzer Prize in Poetry that was awarded posthumously to Sylvia Plath in 1982 for her book The Collected Poems will be auctioned on June 28. The Los Angeles-based Nate D. Sanders Auctions says bidding for the literary document will start at $40,000.

The complete book of Plath’s poetry was published in 1981—18 years after her death—and was edited by her husband, fellow poet Ted Hughes. The Pulitzer Prize was presented to Hughes on Plath’s behalf, and one of two telegrams sent by Pulitzer President Michael Sovern to Hughes read, “We’ve just heard that the Collected Plath has won the Pulitzer Prize. Congratulations to you for making it possible.” The telegrams will also be included in the lot, in addition to an official congratulatory letter from Sovern.

The Pultizer’s jury report from 1982 called The Collected Poems an “extraordinary literary event.” It went on to write, “Plath won no major prizes in her lifetime, and most of her work has been posthumously published … The combination of metaphorical brilliance with an effortless formal structure makes this a striking volume.”

Ted Hughes penned an introduction to the poetry collection describing how Plath had “never scrapped any of her poetic efforts,” even if they weren’t all masterpieces. He wrote:

“Her attitude to her verse was artisan-like: if she couldn’t get a table out of the material, she was quite happy to get a chair, or even a toy. The end product for her was not so much a successful poem, as something that had temporarily exhausted her ingenuity. So this book contains not merely what verse she saved, but—after 1956—all she wrote.”

Also up for auction is Plath’s Massachusetts driver’s license from 1958, at which time she went by the name Sylvia P. Hughes. Bidding for the license will begin at $8000.

Plath's driver's license
Nate D. Sanders Auctions
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Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
New 'Eye Language' Lets Paralyzed People Communicate More Easily
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0

The invention of sign language proved you don't need to vocalize to use complex language face to face. Now, a group of designers has shown that you don't even need control of your hands: Their new type of language for paralyzed people relies entirely on the eyes.

As AdAge reports, "Blink to Speak" was created by the design agency TBWA/India for the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and the Asha Ek Hope Foundation. The language takes advantage of one of the few motor functions many paralyzed people have at their disposal: eye movement. Designers had a limited number of moves to work with—looking up, down, left, or right; closing one or both eyes—but they figured out how to use these building blocks to create a sophisticated way to get information across. The final product consists of eight alphabets and messages like "get doctor" and "entertainment" meant to facilitate communication between patients and caregivers.

Inside of a language book.
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This isn't the only tool that allows paralyzed people to "speak" through facial movements, but unlike most other options currently available, Blink to Speak doesn't require any expensive technology. The project's potential impact on the lives of people with paralysis earned it the Health Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier in June.

The groups behind Blink to Speak have produced thousands of print copies of the language guide and have made it available online as an ebook. To learn the language yourself or share it with someone you know, you can download it for free here.

[h/t AdAge]

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