January 2: (On) Writing

Posted on Jan 3, 2011 in Blog

January 2:

What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

Oh, GOD.  What do I NOT do that doesn’t contribute to my writing?  I amaze myself at how good I am at this.  It’s gotten to the point now where every day is 24 hours of activities to keep me from writing.  (And 24 hours of anxiety about how I’m NOT writing.  Go figure.)

Like my friend Sarah, I also find the Internet to be a huge distraction.  It’s the distraction to beat all others.  I used to be on Facebook, and that was a significant problem.  I used to justify it by saying that it actually encouraged me to get writing done.  Facebook was my reward system.  Fifty more words and then you can go snoop on all your friends.  

But eventually even that didn’t work anymore.  It was:  you need to get up-to-date on all of those statuses/news stories/Twitter updates/blogs/Canadian Tire deals BEFORE you sit down to write.  And if that takes you all day … well, then.  Obviously writing wasn’t in the cards for this 24 hour stretch.  And who are you to say anything if the muse doesn’t come calling?  

Pah.  Anyway, eventually I left Facebook. for reasons that had a lot to do with how big a distraction it had become, and also a lot to do with how annoyed I had become (and would continue to be) at Facebook’s world takeover.  I mean, seriously, people — can no one else remember a time when we got along with paper and pen and curly-wired telephone communication? 

But I suppose that’s neither here nor there, because the point of today’s prompt was about distraction.  In the absence of Facebook, I face many other distractionary adversaries.  (And no, distractionary is not, so far as I can tell, a word.)  I bake things.  I make food.  I take the dog for long, long walks, where I fantasize about finishing my novel to wild acclaim and gracefully sauntering across that stage to win the (insert appropriate Canadian literary prize here).

I clean.  I play piano.  I play my fiddle.  I read books by writers who actually manage to get their damn novels done.  I Skype.  I send a gazillion e-mails out into the void.  I scour Craigslist for the perfect Montréal apartment, despite the fact that right now I can’t afford to buy spaghetti.  Once, in a fit of avoidance, and I suppose in a supreme fit of irony, I even wrote an article about it

In short:  everything distracts me.  And is it possible for me to eliminate EVERYTHING?  I am afraid that the answer is no.  Catastrophe!

Or, perhaps not.  Perhaps, for me, it’s not so much about elimination as it is about discipline.  Starting tomorrow — because I do, after all, have a looming revision deadline — I have a new timetable.  Said timetable goes something like this:

Morning run
Breakfast
Writing
Walk dog
Writing
Make dinner
Relax

I want this year to be about writing, like I’ve said before.  Like I’ll probably say ad nauseam from this point in.  I want this to be the year that I try to be a freelancer.  I do not, for the immediate future, need to worry about rent and associated bills.  These are all of the things that I traditionally use to fuel my Fire of Excuses — making rent means having a Regular Job, which means being away from my pen during the day, which means only having the evening to write, which means that I only have FIVE HOURS each evening to fill with cleaning and baking and all of that other crap that has nothing to do with these stories I want to tell.

But I have the whole day in front of me, now.  And a deadline.  And a new year, new purpose, and (I hope) new discipline that’s going to stick.

So.  It’s not about eliminating, Amanda.  It’s about … drive.  How driven can I be this year, while still keeping that happiness goal in mind?

TIMETABLES.  Ladies and gentlemen, the timetable is everything!

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