Prompt: Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
You see, my life can be structured around my writing time. I have no children, no job outside the home, and my baseboards will tell you everything else you need to know. I can make dinner out of just about anything. There is nothing I have to push around and reschedule to carve out writing time; no way that a shuffling of schedule is going to fix me all up. It’s an unbelievable blessing to have the ability to live and work this way, and I’m never not grateful for it.
All of this is not to say that I’m an efficient, effective writing machine. Here are my big three non-contributions:
- Distractions. I’m awful with distractions. I prefer to think this is because everything is interesting to me; I’m not a person who gets bored easily. And unless I’m having one of those amazing stretches of writing—the ones where I’m in love with the book and the book’s in love with me and little hearts are floating in the air around my desk—the writing becomes just a thing on my to-do list. And then another hour passes, and another, and something in my head says: Well, huh, maybe we don’t want to do that after all. We are putting it off, because OOH. SHINY. And then there are other projects, like the blog and *koffreverb10koff* and the pile of yarn that yearns to be socks someday, and reading, because nothing’s worse than people who don’t read who try to write, right? And my days out in the city?
- Pain. Five years ago, I was loading my moving truck to come here and injured my back. When I think back, I can still remember that pain actually making the world go white, just like a movie—except instead of passing out I screamed. Bad backs run in my famliy, too, and so it hasn’t surprised me that every once in awhile I end up hobbling. When my back is in a healthy phase, sitting at my desk is not a challenge. Other days, it brings me to tears.
- Negative self-talk. Oh, God, I know this sounds self-helpy, but it’s true. Aside from the positive conviction that what I’m writing is garbage, there was a lead-pipe-to-the-kneecaps event at a writing workshop earlier this year that still makes me a little ill when I think about it. And then there’s the insidious stuff that says I should have finished this book and more by now after years with this schedule, that even when I do finish I’ll gain nothing but rejections, and that if it should ever get published, the e-version will be pirated and reviews will be horrifying and I’ll never get another contract again. This does not make me want to add words to the manuscript. Imagine that!
Can I eliminate all these things? I can minimize them, for sure.
- Distractions. I’ve got an ancient laptop in this house that absolutely hates being turned on and is allergic to the internet; I could do my writing on it. I don’t want to minimize my other blogging. After this month is done (and admittedly this daily writing plus visiting other Reverbers is a big investment of time), that leaves me with two days a week here at The Desk and one day a week at my hobby site, and I don’t think that’s too much. The knitting and the reading are time-intensive and profound pleasures for me, but I can make them rewards for after my writing for the day is done, the same with my days out.
- Pain. For my back: Yoga. It really does help immensely, and skipping it doesn’t do me any favors. It’s another time commitment, but if it pays off, it’s worth it. It’ll also help my brain a little with number three….
- Negative self-talk. You notice that all that talk is about the past and the future? Things that already happened that I can’t change, and things that haven’t happened yet that I can’t control. I’m going to try operating in the present, using my energy where it can actually have an impact. And guess what? It can have an impact on this manuscript, which I really do love, even if hearts aren’t always floating above my head when I spend time with it.