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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Writing hygiene

As my deadline nears (thirty four hours, thirty four minutes) and the words pile up (“not as quickly as I’d like,” she thought, her forehead wrinkling with worry), I’m made to think about writing hygiene, which is a term I just made up, derived from sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to making good habits to increase your likelihood of having a good night’s sleep, such as turning off screens an hour before bedtime, going to bed at the same time every night, preceding bedtime with the same approximate routine (like brushing teeth, reading, etc) so that your body gets trained to expect sleep to follow.

Similarly, I think that having good writing hygiene would help me write more consistently. Currently, I do have a routine, but it’s not consistent enough to train me. I start whenever I want to, by checking my comics and deviantArt and Tumblr, then (allegedly) I start writing. However, Tumblr frequently segues into Facebook and even if it doesn’t, following Tumblr link chains can be an endless activity (and I’m not exaggerating). As a result, I end up being ready to start writing right around lunch time, and then I have to eat, and while I eat, I like to watch a show, which is, I know, a bottomless pit of unproductivity. Meaning, I can’t watch a show during lunch if I have any expectation of writing afterwards. But it’s a very hard thing to resist, when you’ve got nothing else occupying your eyes.

Long story short (“too late!” she cackled, rubbing her hands together gleefully), I need better writing hygiene. It is true that my comics, Tumblr and deviantArt are all inspirational to me and help me get into the headspace of writing, but Tumblr just doesn’t have any convenient early-exit points. It makes me think that maybe I should save Tumblr as a post-writing reward rather than a pre-writing requisite. In addition, I should have a set time of day that I begin this routine—and perhaps, a set time that I end it, though I hesitate to stop myself if I’m on a roll.

But if I write 2,500 words and let the spirit take me until Branden gets home, the next day I feel the letdown of not having done anything to reward my hard work, of simply jumping back into the fray and putting my raw, abused nose right back against the grindstone. I always promise myself, “if you write today, you can play Don’t Starve afterwards!” (“she does, you know,” she griped. “I’m starting to think she never planned to let me go.”) But there’s never time afterwards, and then the cycle begins again.

It’s possible that changing venues might help me with both staying on task and choosing to stop; but all of the appealing venues are ones where it’d be at least a little rude not to buy something. Branden has suggested the library, and it’s a very good idea, but the image in my head of a library includes hard plastic chairs, MDF desks, and a distinct lack of beverages. I think I’m probably mistaken in at least some of these assumptions, but, so far, laziness has won out, and I’m home-bound for writing. Primarily, I write while sitting on the floor of the unbelievably smelly room which houses three five-week-old kittens who think that me and my computer are the hottest ride in the whole park. (“Gee, I wonder why it’s so hard to get anything done,” she sneered, lighting a cigarette.) It’s how I multitask: kittens get quality Elly time and I get quality kitten time and I compose my masterpiece and Everything Is Just Great. Right?

Of course right. Or so I keep telling myself. And I could be right, it’s just a matter of discipline. So, here I sit, in Smelly Kittenville, preparing to write something that looks like Philip K Dick and Raymond Chandler had a hideous mutated Frankenstein baby. Wish me luck!

Word count: 47,372 (뤌)

1 comment:

Becky Munyon said...

I'm absolutely with you about the library thing. I was going crazy sitting at home all day, so I started going to coffee shops to write almost every day. Then I realized how much $ I was spending on coffee. I keep telling myself I should go to the library, but for some reason I just don't want to. The image of me sitting in a library feels stuffy and lonely and also lacks beverages.