on writing and making myself write

Prompt: December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)

Um, at times it seems what don’t I do that doesn’t contribute to my writing? Here’s some thoughts:

1. I stay up too late watching X-Files on Netflix. In fact, week 2 of this term I started with the very first episode of X-Files and have since (over the span of 15 weeks) watched almost every episode. Some nights this means I wind up getting really interested and watching three episodes (or a couple times more), which means I am tired the next day and don’t feel like concentrating. Solution: Over break and next term, I need to develop a good sleep schedule that doesn’t involve Netflix at night. How easy will that be? who knows.

2. I don’t keep committed to scheduled writing days. At the beginning of the term, I had nothing scheduled for Mondays and Fridays with the intent of using them for writing. Very quickly, students would ask to meet on a Monday or Friday, and I would agree. Sometimes this would mean having a meeting with a student and then having a break and another meeting an hour later. I’m bad with focusing on writing projects for short periods of time, so that hour would usually be wasted. Solution: Next term, I’m not meeting with students on Mondays or Fridays (I teach Tuesday and Thursday), unless it’s very late in the afternoon (a time I’m not very productive anyway).

3. I work best in the mornings, but lately I’ve been getting distracted with reading about social media online and engaging in Twitter and Facebook. My best writing days have been the days I’ve turned on “Freedom,” an application on Macs that shuts off network connectivity for a certain period of time, and the only way to turn it back on before that time period is to restart the computer. Solution: Next term, I’m turning on Freedom on my laptop before leaving the home in the morning.

4. I think of other things I need to do and start doing them immediately. Solution: I’m going to start following an adviser’s suggestion that you just write those things down on a to-do list and keep working. I used to do this well, but now I get distracted too easily.

These are probably four of my biggest problems, though others exist. All are, of course, a matter of habit. So time to kick myself in gear and change my habits.

I have my meeting for my dissertation prospectus in four hours, so I need to go prepare for that. (I think the common language is “prospectus defense,” but that seems like a ridiculous term for it.)

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2 Responses to on writing and making myself write

  1. DanaCK says:

    First things first: How was your meeting?

    It may be a bit Pavlovian, but with each degree I’ve had a few CDs that made me buckle down and write. For my Master’s degree, it was Fiona Apple’s “Tidal” and Everything But the Girl’s “Amplified Heart.” For my diss, (and I’ll deny it if you ever tell anyone), it was the Twilight series CDs. If you get into a pattern of eating, sleeping, and working at a certain time (and it sounds like you are working on it), it starts to feel weird if you fall out of your pattern—you get itchy.

    I also had little bits of inspiration around my computer—pictures of my daughter and husband, a Japanese Daruma doll with one eye left blank, a picture of Martin Luther King Junior with the “I have a Dream” saying, and the Barbara Kingsolver quote, “There is no perfect time to write…there is only now.” Along with a big glass of red wine, all of those things motivated me to write. Maybe a few would work for you, too?

  2. Michael says:

    Meeting went very well, Dana! ABD 🙂

    I’ve written with music before, but I don’t think it really has an effect (except when I’m hyper, then it’s distracting). But you’re right, that I just need to develop a better rhythm. 🙂

    Wine probably won’t help me, usually. About half way through a glass, I’d not want to concentrate, haha. Though there are moments when it’s helped.

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