Evasions of Writing

Evasions of Writing
Photo – Jamie Rule: https://www.flickr.com/photos/omgwtfjamie/ & Ken Lee: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenleewrites/

I guess anyone who considers themselves to be serious about writing have those rationalizations for not getting to the effort of the craft. Some find it more grueling to get to the task than others. With some, this burden is fitful depending on mood and/or the type of distractions. Others don’t seem to have the problem hammering at their doors at all.

I wish I was one of the latter. I know that type of person is rare, but I do believe they exist.

Gathering from what I’ve read throughout the blogosphere, many writers are having more strives with distractions than with anything else. The procrastinations can be easily found in situations such as having to make a “quick” trip to the grocery story before sitting in front of the keyboard or the spiral notebook and pen. Another one is needing a bite to eat before tackling the task. The cop-outs add up, don’t they?

Although I don’t take all the precautions to restrain diversions, I do as many of these tactics as possible without hiding in a hole someplace.

  • phone calls: I don’t let the phone go to voice mail. My excuse is the phone sits on the desk where I write. I can’t help but be disturbed by the ring. Why don’t I turn the volume down so I don’t hear it ring? My excuse for that is I don’t know how to do that. Definitely lame, right? Why don’t I buy earplugs? I’m relatively sure I’d feel uncomfortable wearing them. That one is feeble at best seeing that I haven’t tried it yet.
  • husband at home: Trying to be a good spouse, I try to make myself available to him when he’s around. If he wants to talk, I figure I should be there to listen. If he needs help with something, I should be available to do what I can. The problem with this excuse is I could assure some time to write when he’s around and not have it be any sort of inconvenience to him just by doing some scheduling.

So is the culprit of my writing evasion really distractions? After taking a realistic evaluation of my situation, I can’t see how the actual distractions are the difficulty.

Jacqui Murphy has written about the space a writer uses to work. Supposing from the photos she’s taken, her workspace is next to perfect. After reading her posts addressing this aspect of the writer’s world, I did an inventory of what I have for my space. It feels way short of what Jacqui has. If I had more shelving… If my desk was wider and deeper… If my printer was better situated so using it would only be an arm’s length away… If I had a larger window for fresh air and a better view… If the workspace was ultimately my own, not having the share with anyone… If I had all that, I’d be a better writer, right? Who am I kidding?

Oh sure, I want all of that. Yet, what I have now is enough so that I can write something, anything worthwhile. I doubt seriously my write dodging has much to do with my physical space.

I’ve read numerous blog posts about getting your butt into the seat. Some writers advocate doing the work no matter what you’d rather be doing. Treat the craft as you would any employment you may have that’s traditional. (I don’t consider writing traditional unless the person is working for someone else.) I can see how this might work, especially if you’re feeling passionate about this job. On the other hand though, if you dread going to work, but do it anyway, is the quality lacking? Depending on how down in the dumps you are about your work, the job could sorely suffer.

I admit it. I have mood swings. As a rule, my swings are so mild people don’t even realize I’ve switched from one to another. Still, my writing is affected by these minor changes in my psychological makeup, but not to the point where I’m tossing written work into the trash or deleting it never to be seen again. However, there are those hefty fluctuations in mood that do happen to me occasionally. The effects of these shifts could have me destroying anything in my path–if I let it. Instead, I walk away and do something meaningless to hopefully clear out the repugnant vibes.

This, I believe, is the felon in my evasions of writing. I’d like to attach the blame to the mood swings themselves, but that’s preposterous. Sure, I should be allowing myself to have these changes in attitude, but I don’t want this self-tolerance to govern my ability to write something decent. Moreover, I don’t think it should.

Handling this affliction is something I usually have to dance through as if I’m on tiptoe playing a game of hopscotch: step lightly on it here, skip over it there, stomp on it hard with both feet at the end, and don’t lose your balance anywhere along the way. The point of the dance is to prevent myself from letting my swinging temperament banish my love of the craft. Sometimes it’s exhausting, sure, but it does work when I put effort into it.

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What are your evasions of writing?

My method is to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity. – George Bernard Shaw
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11 Replies to “Evasions of Writing”

  1. For me, writing is not a primary thing. Sometimes, it’s the thing I’m doing instead of what I should be doing. For example, I opened my laptop a few minutes ago to finish our taxes. Then I saw an email from your blog and I said “ooh, I always enjoy reading what Glynis has to say.” So there, today, you’re my reason 🙂

    Making time to write is like making time to do anything else. Sometimes, it has to be the right time, sometimes it just has to be. Unfortunately, right now feels like a good time to write, I have a subject, a draft, a cup of coffee and I’m comfortable. On the other hand, those taxes aren’t going to do themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m flattered, Dan. Still, I hope I’m not the culprit for you making that dash mad run to click submit on April 15th at 11:58pm; or worse, with you racing to the post office at that time.

      For some screwy reason I can’t quite figure out, time is not my problem. I’m a stay-at-home wife, all children are grown and on their own. Time I have.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like your comparison of writing and a game of hopscotch. It is well written, clever, and apt. I’m i the habit of writing most days whenever I find the time whether it’s 20 minutes or two hours. Being retired with a husband also retired who skis, golfs, and gardens helps. I think when I quit worrying about when, how long, or even where I write —I have a laptop and just plop down wherever it’s comfortable and quiet—I distract myself less often. Though I do still have days where I divert myself with various little tasks and then realize I didn’t write at all that day. But I forgive myself and don’t let it happen again the next day.

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    1. Yes, there are those days when the other parts of our lives do take the lead. I’d hate to think that there weren’t those days too. To be so devoted that nothing else ever is as important or more important feels reprehensible to me.

      I long to have a laptop, but it isn’t in the budget. Moreover, I’m not sure if it would make that much difference in my writing, the ritual or the skill, or if I’d even use it as much as I dream about.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Judging by what I’ve read in Rebecca Bradley’s author interviews (where I got the inspiration for the writing space), everyone is different. I dare say what you have works for you and my set up–or anyone else’s–might not work as well. I too have a phone that rings in my office that I can’t answer (the handset doesn’t work and I haven’t replaced it). I should remove it, but I just haven’t. I also have our home business printer in my office which annoys me when it does it’s thing.

    One thing: I’ve read it’s good to take a break every 45 minutes when writing. I think with my distractions, it averages out to just about that amount.

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    1. The workspace discussion… I’m just envious. To have a desk that hugs you in when you sit at it and has all those compartments so everything is sorted out is something I’ve always wanted, even though it’s never been a necessity.

      I end up taking a break about every 35 minutes to 45 minutes, taking less than 5 minutes for the break itself. A person needs liquid (mine is either coffee or water these days). And, of course, there’s those annoying trips to the bathroom that just can’t be avoided. 😛

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  4. I can relate to mood swings being an evasion of writing. I suffer with them myself. I let them dictate whether or not I write instead of deciding myself. Also, trying to be a good father and husband is an evasion. But there are moments where the wife allows me to get out from the house and write. And getting out of the house is vital. Otherwise, I would never want to leave.

    Like you, I wish I was one of those writers who wouldn’t be distracted or deterred from writing. I wish words would flow out of me every day. That’s not the case. And writing every day doesn’t work for me. I don’t have a set schedule of writing. And when I do, I struggle to get the words out. It’s quite a dilemma.

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    1. George, despite my mood swings, I get writing into my routine every day. I guess you could say I’m compelled to write. It’s either that or I have a case of ‘writer’s OCD’. It hasn’t always been that way though. About 4 or 5 years ago I was rarely seen at the keyboard and tried to completely avoid paper and pen. The only change was a growing need to express myself with words and knowing that speaking is definitely not my forte, it has to be through writing.

      I wish I had a place outside the home to write but without a laptop or transportation, I’m pretty much stuck with what I have. Such is life. 😉

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