Your Do-Nothing Lockdown Manifesto

I haven’t blogged in a month.

Which is ironic, or lazy, or lazily ironic or ironically lazy, I’m not sure which. I issued what amounted to a cultural fatwa, urging writers to inspire the world with their musings, and then I went into a huddle with myself and did nothing.

To put it bluntly, the last time I blogged, I was wrong. And I could not be prouder of myself.

I’m so proud that I’m not doing any writing, and nor am I improving myself in any way. I’m not exclusively sitting on my arse, either, but I am certainly not bettering myself. And I have to say, it’s the best thing I’ve ever (or never) done.

Not that I’m not hugely impressed by all those folks who have taken up lockdown challenges to achieve enlightenment by next Thursday and running marathons or cycling Tour de Frances in their 8×8 backyards in Chester: I am, sort of. I think it’s admirable that people have taken up trombone juggling and writing operas about virtual reality helicopters. And I think it’s a great idea if people want to spend the next month learning how to sing Nessun Dorma in Mandarin sign language whilst losing weight by leaping from ceiling pendant light to wall hanging.

I just think they should stop banging on about it, and I invite people to join my Do-Nothing Lockdown Manifesto instead.

The New Social Media Bullies

Resist the perpetual Instagrammers who want you to think that their locked down life is the best locked down life.

Ignore the incessant TikTokkers who have rustled up a gourmet meal families will love with two fava beans and some out-of-date cider vinegar.

What Book Are You Afraid To Write? Why?

Say sayonara to the unflappable Facebookers who feel they need to tell you that your child will never be bored again if only you spend thirty minutes per day ramming mindfulness into their confused little curly heads.

Blank the Twitterers who tell you that they once wrote a Nobel-worthy novel whilst in full plastercast after a horrific outdoors Zumba accident, so if you don’t have yours written by the May bank holiday, you’re just a bit shit really.

And most definitely shut your eyes to the WhatsAppers who ask you to join their challenge to find perfect happiness by reading the most bonkers and ridiculous conspiracy theories the world has ever seen and forwarding them to 598 of your closest friends as a proxy for proper social contact.

Superblogger Selfie Gold

For Once: A Manifesto Which Has Already Been Tested! (You’re Welcome)

Day to day – and especially over Easter when I had the last 4 days off – I have done nothing I could say I have ever aspired to, and in doing so, I have achieved what can only be described as the most smugly content state of being I have ever experienced.

In order to achieve this social media Nirvana, I didn’t buy anything or take up anything new. I didn’t learn anything or change anything. Instead, when not working, I’ve been exclusively cooking, cleaning, clearing, sorting, eating, watching TV, reading, drinking good wine, video calling my friends (often whilst drinking good wine), and sleeping. In terms of memorable achievements, I can therefore safely classify this as a whole lot of Nothing.

I acknowledge that I am uniquely placed to enjoy a lot of this stuff, so I’m not saying this is for everyone. But bits of the Do-Nothing Manifesto are at least appropriate for many.

The cooking feels nice because I never have time otherwise to do so. That means it’s technically a novelty for me, because I haven’t spent the last 10 years trying to think of what people will eat and getting complaints for my trouble. But it does feel good. Sometimes I use what’s been lying around in the freezer and cupboards for far too long. Mostly I don’t. I mean really, who the hell cares?

The cleaning feels good because I’m locked down in my family home in the west of Ireland, which has needed a bit of love since my Dad passed away last April. I have more space here to work, read and goggle at screens and birds, and I’m earning this good fortune by scrubbing every last inch of it so it looks like it used to when he used to be here.

The clearing and sorting is another Job-Hanging-Over-Your-Head thing which is like cleaning your mind out at the same time. I would stress that this is not a Marie Kondo thing. This is purely an old-fashioned spring clean, and I won’t have it associated with any online self-help directives. But when somebody dies, sorting through stuff can either be the worst thing for you (if you do it when you’re not ready) or the best thing (if you’re ready and have the time). Me, I am finally ready and I have the time.

The eating, drinking, watching TV, reading and sleeping things are self-explanatory. But all that precious downtime would be ruined if I was going around worrying about not writing the novel or the blog or submitting novels to agents who are now drowning in manuscripts or queries for books which haven’t even been written yet.

I Realised Something And Now You Get To Suffer For It

It’s All Work-Life Balance Really

I have to caveat all this by saying I’m lucky enough to still have a job I can do from home, which means that my Monday to Friday 9-5s are pretty much taken up with normal life, minus the commute, the salads, the face-to-face wheedling and the office banter. Which is an excuse in itself, but some people would think that all that saved commuting time should be spent doing something amazing.

And I am. I’m staring at birds, thinking about what to have for dinner, and wondering whether I should go to bed with a book or Netflix. I can’t think of a better way of doing nothing, and I can only recommend it.

You now have the ultimate freedom to Do Nothing, folks. It’s the best way I know of preparing ourselves for the lives ahead of us.

And unlike learning Swahili, writing the next Booker or losing 10 stone, we may never have the chance to Do Nothing again.

  39 comments for “Your Do-Nothing Lockdown Manifesto

  1. April 13, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    Lol. I’ve done no writing at all, but have been slapping paint on the outside of the house. In-between painting I’ve been sitting reading in the garden. Enjoy doing nothing until Boris lifts the lock-down!

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 13, 2020 at 3:43 pm

      Sounds like the perfect lockdown Stevie. Apparently it’s impossible to even get paint here at the moment, the whole country’s gone mad with it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 13, 2020 at 4:16 pm

        Everyone’s stocked up so that they can do all those jobs that they’ve been putting off for so long!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. April 13, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    My daughter calmly explained to me, on day 1 of lock-down, and using her fairly recently acquired vernacular that I would be spending every waking moment in our small but functional back garden with her. The exact words she used were “garden” but I knew what she meant. It has been entirely unproductive but the best use of my time imaginable. She’s having a nap at the moment so I popped out with my laptop to do a bit of writing and was promptly attacked by a parasol (it is a blustery day and I may not have secured it properly to the base thingy that came with it) so I think nature is telling me I should in no way be attempting to better myself. So I read your post instead and it has confirmed this theory. Although I nailed the trombone juggling thing a few days ago…

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 13, 2020 at 3:49 pm

      Never mind the trombones, James. Sounds like you have learned a new language in lockdown – Toddler Wisdom. A language of few words, but infinite reflection. A high achievement indeed. I hope it incorporates snoozing on your part too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. April 13, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    I too am working from home like a sodding trooper – probably busier than ever to be honest. And all that grating, annoying “what shall we do to pass the time” bollocks I keep hearing is doing my nut in. So, I have done a little writing (mainly because I have deadlines) but I’ve also dug out some weeds and brambles and today I cleaned the kitchen sink.
    I think that means we’re both winning.

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 13, 2020 at 3:51 pm

      Agree wholeheartedly Nick. I was lucky and tuned out all the self-improvers early. Which was a huge improvement, I think you’ll concur.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. April 13, 2020 at 2:29 pm

    I’m doing my best trying to do nothing. I got away with it for three weeks while in isolation with the dreaded virus. Now that I’m ‘Better’ I’m back cooking and cleaning as if I hadn’t nearly died. The last part is an exaggeration, I didn’t nearly die, but as I keep telling them ‘I could have’ I’m receiving zero sympathy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 13, 2020 at 3:52 pm

      Jesus Bernie Rose, didn’t know you had the virus. Glad you’re on the other side of it. Hope you’re hale and hearty now. Your family is sounding infuriatingly normal.

      Like

  5. April 13, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    I’m doing ok. So glad it’s not last year with mum sick. But what does get me is people saying what they will change after this. I can tell all who will listen I will change nothing. I loved my life before and am so looking forward to getting back to it and all its imperfections and wasteful ways.
    My advice to anyone is do whatever gets you through. And wine helps.

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 13, 2020 at 3:54 pm

      I know what you mean Tric – a huge part of the gratitude and relief myself and himself feel is down to the fact that we both lost our Dads last year, and are so glad we don’t have to worry about them through this, let alone be not allowed to see them. Plus having an excuse to drink wine on a Tuesday is also nice.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. April 13, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    I am SO with you, Tara. I’ve even gone so far as to feel downright curmudgeonly when someone sends me the latest Zoom sing-along… I mean how damn many of those can we listen to???? 🙂

    I, myself, have found NO inspiration during quarantine. I read more, am currently rewatching the entire Sopranos series with my hubby, taking uninspired walks around the neighborhood, since all the good trails and beach walks are closed, and sleeping more. Trying NOT to eat more but that’s a struggle. Have not spent a whit of time cleaning… except for my damn hands. I am truly NOT the poster child for productive downtime.

    I am wondering if we novelists who do not write historical fiction will now have to include COVID-19 in any contemporary story we write. If so, I’m already bored.

    But seriously, I’m glad to hear you’re well. Please stay so. And hopefully we’ll all reconvene with brilliance at a later date. The sun’s coming out and I gotta go do another turn or two around my block. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 13, 2020 at 7:52 pm

      Lorraine I’m so glad you’re safe. I will be clear that this is not a manifesto for productivity! Anything I’ve achieved has been accidental, and almost entirely relating to a lack of either junk or dust. The rest of the time, I’m blissfully blank 😆

      Like

    • April 15, 2020 at 9:26 am

      Historical fiction writers are not, ahem, immune. Got a couple of Spanish flu edits coming up. Also, hi Tara! Have pretty much dropped out of writing society even before this, so waving over the ether 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 15, 2020 at 11:13 pm

        Hi Susan!! I haven’t been near the Irish writing crowd myself in night on 2 years! Good to see you 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  7. April 13, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    For me, this staying at home is pretty dangerous. I may not want to go out when it’s over. I, too, am not doing as much writing as I think I should (but, I never know how much that is anyway). At least with everyone staying home, the Earth is happy. Less pollution and less stomping around.

    My daily goal is to avoid the second by second virus updates, the people posting these updates, and people posting how they are doing stuff they never wanted to do before. Stuff they will forget how to do by the end of this summer.

    I’m glad you’re getting that old-fashioned spring clean done at your family home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 13, 2020 at 7:54 pm

      I think that’s an admirable goal, Stanley. Avoiding the bad is in my opinion a far greater good than finding new short-lived purpose!

      Like

  8. April 13, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    Such a relief to read this. I have also very comfortably adapted to the lockdown here in Berlin, sleeping lots. My immune system so far resisted any exaggerated activity. Never thought I would adopt so easily. Tend to overachieve. while on my day-to-day job. So doing nothing (what I do, allows no home office, we’re closed full stop) is the complete opposite of what I usually do this time of year. Yet, I find lot’s of peace just sitting around, tending to my little household & garden, listening to time clicking by….

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 13, 2020 at 7:57 pm

      The peace is indeed palpable, lyart. In my quiet little corner of the underachieving world, at least. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  9. April 13, 2020 at 9:33 pm

    Sparling, why do you diss my achievements (Zoom group cycles and being proficient now in Nessun Dorma in Mandarin sign language)? I have also returned to the blogosphere after a hiatus caused by the loss of a parent and the attendant torpor and mindlessness that overwhelmed me. I do hope you are in good order and staying safe, if not busy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 14, 2020 at 10:22 am

      I was so sorry to hear about your loss, Conor. Attendant torpor is a really brilliant way of putting that whole state. I’m not sure what to say about your achievements, though. Apologising might expose me to accusations of constantly surveilling your activities for the purposes of nefarious lampooning, which I will never admit to.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. April 14, 2020 at 7:23 am

    You’ve done more than I have! Keep it up Tara, and stay safe.
    SXX

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 14, 2020 at 10:23 am

      I will do my best Ms S! You too, and congratulations on acing the Do Nothing Manifesto without even realising it.

      Like

  11. April 14, 2020 at 11:30 am

    I feel like the gauntlet has been thrown down, Tara. I accept the challenge. I’m going back to bed now…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. April 14, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    Sadly you’ve inspired me by doing nothing – and living to tell the tale – which in these overtold times is…well…something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 14, 2020 at 5:07 pm

      Oh dear, Armen. And after me going to such much effort to be completely uninspiring. Oh well. I may have to let this one go….

      Liked by 1 person

  13. April 14, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    Very funny and honest post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 14, 2020 at 8:38 pm

      Thanks Tiffany – I err on the side of brutal honesty where at all possible 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. April 15, 2020 at 6:35 am

    Well, Now I feel guilty!

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 15, 2020 at 11:11 pm

      Now, that is most certainly not allowed! Guilt is a very active and exhausting emotion and not permitted in the Lethargic Revolution. Please lie down, have a nap, and awake guilt-free….

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 16, 2020 at 1:32 am

        “Please lie down, have a nap, and awake guilt-free….”

        They say there’s rest aplenty in the grave.

        Ok, ok. Actually, I’m kind of conflicted. Guilty, yet better since reading your post. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  15. April 18, 2020 at 10:33 pm

    Excellent! I have changed the feed section on the garden hose that has been leaking for 5 years, gardened to my genuine heart’s content, cooked, tidied the shed, frightened relatives by getting sick (turned out to be tonsillitis). But I feel guilty that this is all too easy for me, and the vast majority of people on this planet are having a tougher or more tragic time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 20, 2020 at 8:03 pm

      Agreed, Hilary. This is a bad time for so many and no amount of online humour is going to fix that. It might help for 5 seconds all the same. Well done on the hose, though. I would say that’s fairly epic!

      Like

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