Dithering Disguised as WritingJanet Fix
New Bern, NC, author Sharon Phennah is just a charmer. She’s nutty and
YouTube has a hilarious British video of a mature woman going about her day. First she decides to go through her mail. She tosses the junk in the bin and decides to pay the bills. As she gets in her purse for her checkbook she notices the remote is on the counter in the kitchen and realizes it belongs in the living room. She picks it up, muttering about needing it later by the TV, but sees the flowers on the counter need water. She puts down the remote, gets the watering can and begins filling it when she has to go to the loo, leaving everything.
This performance ends only when the day is finished. The check book is on the counter by her purse, the remote is still in the kitchen, the flowers are un-watered, the bills unpaid, and the exhausted woman exclaims, “Look at this place, and I’ve worked all day.”
My “writing for a few hours in the morning” couldn’t be described more perfectly. The alarm, BBC radio world news, goes off about 6 a.m. I rise at 7:30 a.m., put on the coffee, eat my cereal, and call my best friend at 8 a.m. for our daily chat. We do this to be certain no one vanished into the next world overnight but neither of us say that. Instead, we have a laugh together.
Then, off to the shower when another friend calls. It’s more comfy to walk dogs in the morning cool, will I join her? Of course. I hate the heat and may not be able to go by evening. Besides she’s great company and the dogs are fast friends. I can begin writing in 30 minutes and shower before lunch.
A different friend calls after I have written a paragraph. She has cancer so a conversation with her is vital. Then I remember my lunch date and dash off, arriving a nanosecond before that friend gives up on me. After way too many nachos, a bit of necessary grocery shopping, and a quick reply to an insurance company, I sit down to the typewriter.
My mind is empty. My eyelids droop. My knees ache and my carpals and tunnels join in. The bed is only a few feet away and the rest of the day is free. An hour nap wouldn’t hurt, would it? Words elude me. I’ll get up, shower, and write this evening after dinner.
Most writers have similar issues in different flavors. Because writing is solitary, self-motivated, and requires huge amounts of discipline, we are prey to creative rationales, delusions, and procrastinations.
If you don’t believe this, have a look at the number of “how to write” books available. Every requirement—location, ambience, tools, inspiration, emotions—and an enormous range of “how-to” methods are described in depth and detail ad nauseum.
These are valuable tomes, but overwhelming. My antidote is KISS—Keep It Simple (Stupid, Silly, Sweetheart).
So here’s what I am trying for the next month. Stay tuned.
1. DO VITAL LIFE STUFF BEFORE WRITING.
This means the self-care stuff (food, showers, exercise) and the vital family functions (kids to school, Grammy clean & fed, your part-time job). Leave the rest (laundry, re-potting that wilting plant, scrubbing the tile in the bathroom) until after writing.
2. CHOOSE A TIME TO WRITE AND STICK TO IT.
Be real about it. Some folks can write for hours, others only a few minutes at a time. Acknowledge who you are and if you must change a bit to “cram writing in,” do it gently and honor your needs. Too rigid a schedule invites resentment & quitting, too flexible and you get into the fix described on page one.
3. ENJOY AND SHARE THE EXCITEMENT OF YOUR WRITING.
We each have particular comfort levels about others reading our work. Some delight in sharing, others cringe. Honor who you are in this respect, but don’t hesitate to share your joy in accomplishing what you have promised yourself. It is infectious and encouraging when others are happy for you. Someone’s smile or “attagirl” can carry you through a couple of difficult and lonely hours at the computer.