Thursday, April 4, 2013

Challenge: D is for Dallying

D is for Dallying.

From Merriam-Webster:

1a : to act playfully; especially : to play amorously
  b : to deal lightly : toy
2a : to waste time
  b : linger, dawdle

I chose the above definition of Dally because it's not entirely negative. Most of the available definitions of Dallying take the negative spin, such as this one from Google: Act or move slowly: "workers were loafing, dallying, or goofing off".

But for writers, for artists of any kind I believe, dallying is actually a necessity. I also believe that even the 2a definition above - to waste time - is necessary. Because I don't really believe that it is wasting time.

It is in those moments of moving more slowly in the world, of taking time to notice, or even of staring off into space and letting the world catch your attention with something unexpected or new or even mundane (thanks, gl!) that you might not have otherwise noticed if you weren't sitting there. Wasting time.

Or as authors dallying at the coffee cart, with the hot cup of green tea in your hands, inhaling and letting the warmth spread from your hands to your face, you smile. And you overhear a conversation between two people at the burrito cart behind you. And you know what the character in your story on the screen at your desk is going to say. You head back to it and begin to write.

Or you notice the Grocery Outlet store when you're heading home from an appointment and remember you have to buy some handy item and maybe they have it. Inside you find treasures of foods from places you've never been to, or you thought your friend had made up, or something from the place where your current work in progress takes place. You wander the shelves to see what else there is and find the jumbled products in random order and yet you're compelled to keep looking. And there is a can of ______ something. The thing your protagonist is going to make for dinner and on the back, the label has a recipe for just that thing.

And sometimes, we just have to sit. Or walk without purpose. To slow down. To let our mind rest a little and let the stories percolate while we relax. While we dally.

Dallying. It's not a waste of time. It's time spent getting ready for the next round. Dally a little and see what you might have otherwise missed. Or notice if it makes it a little easier to jump back into your writing or art, or even to get back to the less-than-creative job which pays the bills.


  1. I always think children do this so much better than adults - or rather, that we lose the option to look at the detail of a situation in our acceptance of the overall picture.
    When I first saw the title I thought we were going to be looking at procrastination. Now that is taking dallying to the extreme.

    1. Let's face it - children are generally better at imagination and not rushing things than adults, right? *smile*

      Procrastination - yes. The big "P" ...

      Thank you for coming by.

  2. I love people watching, for all the reasons you mention here. You never know who might inspire your next story. Or maybe help you solve a problem with a current one.

    1. People watching is pretty near a requirement for writers; yes. It can be gestures or words or the way an accessory sits on the neck or, well, anything. I think even in speculative or steampunk or scifi, people watching helps keep those details real and alive.

      Thank you for your comment

  3. Nice post, Dot! Your point on people watching is SPOT ON!!!

    1. Thanks for popping on over, Rocky! People are our business, right?!