Really, Stop Checking your Email. Or, My Writing Process.

Books, y'all.

A photo of some books, cause this post is about writing.

I am submitting things again!

Or, soon I am.

See, for a while I had this thing known in the “real world” of “adults who don’t have master’s degrees in the fine arts” as “a job,” and that really put a damper on my writing productivity. Instead of coming home from work, sitting down at the computer, and happily pouring out all the creative thoughts that had been brewing in my head all day, I would come home from work, sit down on the couch (which in my house is my bed), and stare vacantly into whatever show on Hulu or Netflix I was currently using for escapism until I fell asleep at an obscenely early hour or a friend contacted me to go drink away our communal misery together. And all those creative thoughts that had been brewing all day? They never existed in the first place. Or if they did attempt to poke their little heads into the light, they were swiftly drowned by the over-worked, under-appreciated, absolutely-no-natural-light-because-WHY-ARE-THERE-NO-WINDOWS-HERE-I’M-BECOMING-A-MOLE-PERSON-BECAUSE-I-NEVER-SEE-THE-SUN, mind-fuck soup of my existence.

However, since I broke free of the leash of responsible employment (i.e. quit), and after a short recovery period of travel and doing absolutely nothing to overcome my 9-to-5 trauma, the writing has been coming along nicely. Or somewhat nicely. My process is still very, well, non-processy. I found out a long time ago that I work best in the morning–strangely, since I am NOT a morning person–and the reason for this is because I have to cut myself off at the pass before I start doing anything else with my day that could distract me or provide a convenient excuse for not writing. These potential disastrous activities include: going to the grocery store, reading the news, cleaning house, paying bills, showering, or explaining these disastrous activities on my blog (yes, it’s already too late for me), to name a few. If I so much as wake up and then start reading my daily websites, that could be a trigger into a spiral of useless internet surfing and GIF giggling and YouTube watching that ends with me half-way through a bag of potato chips and mowing through the entire season of some brain-numbing CW show about vampires in high school.

However, even if I succeed in sitting down with a story immediately upon waking up, I face an endless stream of further possibilities for self-sabotage. Such as: checking my email, “research,” answering texts and phone calls, checking my email again, getting up to make more coffee, checking Facebook, going to the restroom, getting something to eat, checking my email again. Any of these seemingly innocuous activities could lead into me distracting myself for an indefinite amount of time. The most dangerous ones are making coffee, eating, and going to the restroom, because these could segue into “justifiable” activities. Like so:

Nature calls—>Rise from computer—>Take care of business—>While taking care of business, notice bathmat is nasty—>Decide to wash bathmat—>Discover the laundry detergent is nearly gone—>Get dressed, make hair and makeup presentable for public appearance, maybe shower which will take another 30-45 minutes because your hair is really long and it takes forever to untangle it during the conditioner stage—>Figure that if you’re going out anyway, you might as well go to the grocery store and get groceries instead of just swinging by the drugstore a block away—>If you’re going to the grocery store, you must make a list, and in order to make a list, you must know what you are cooking this week—>Research recipes on favorite food blogs and epicurious, decide what is within your skill and patience range while also taking into consideration your fiance’s dietary restrictions of not being too spicy and for some reason hating bell peppers and onions, three of your most favorite things in the world being bell peppers, onions, and spice, making it all the more difficult and time consuming to find a recipe you will both enjoy—>Drive to grocery store, acquire groceries—>Forget to buy laundry detergent—>Swing by drug store on way back to acquire forgotten laundry detergent—>While putting groceries in fridge, decide to clean out fridge because it’s small and you’re running out of space and there’s evolution happening in that tupperware container—>When done cleaning fridge and putting away groceries, finally wash bathmat, along with towels and dishrags and any miscellaneous socks found under the bed—>Return to computer, find that it is now 5:00 PM and you will need to start cooking soon and there’s really not much you can get done on your story in the meantime—>Save and close word document, but comfort self with fact that you got a lot of other necessary things done today, so it’s fine that you wrote all of one sentence which you later deleted, deciding it was crap—>Cook a delicious meal and feel very good about yourself, except for a hollow feeling deep, deep down inside which is the knowledge that you have gone another day without making any progress in your writing—>Ignore this feeling.

And that is how going to the restroom can completely ruin a productive day of writing.

Another part of the problem is that I have this really unfortunate mindset leftover from undergrad (for which I have no excuse, that having ended years ago), in which I made a reward system for “doing something productive,” like showering. If I do one of the “productive” things, which really aren’t productive but are simply necessary for survival, like feeding myself, then I get to reward myself with something empty and brainless, often for the rest of the day. I am endeavoring to correct this behavior.

So, mostly, actually getting anything done writing-wise requires me to nearly chain myself to my computer, forgo meals and refreshments, only go to the bathroom when ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY, and purposefully disregard personal hygiene and household cleanliness for the sake of writing. For some reason, my fiance still loves me when I’m smelly and I’ve left my dishes in the sink for three days and there are mounds of clothing on the floor. He must either be absolutely crazy for me or have really low standards.

And now that I’ve written this blog entry, i.e. done something productive, I’m going to get some lunch and continue watching season four of Supernatural (why?!?) on Netflix.


2 thoughts on “Really, Stop Checking your Email. Or, My Writing Process.

  1. Pingback: One hundred percent of people who don’t submit to The New Yorker. Or, every writer is a snowflake. « claire writes stories

  2. Pingback: The importance of writing spaces and Rasputin the five-legged sheep. | By Claire Burgess

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