Friday, November 12, 2004

Diets & Writing

Okay, so I’m pretty sure you are wondering what a diet can have to do with writing, but in my world they have a lot to do with each other. (Smile) I’m always fighting the battle of the bulge. The ground that sees the most action is the belly area. I’ve spent few really thin days in my lifetime, so this battle goes on and on.

And where does the writing fit in you ask?

Right there with the food battle -- behind enemy lines even.

When I’m having a bad writing day, or any bad writing time at all, and those words just won’t come, I find myself escaping from in front of the computer to grab something to eat. I mean no one can blame me for taking a short break from writing to eat. Right?

I think that’s the ill-advised reasoning that started my problem at least. When I wrote freelance full-time I had a tight weekly eight AM deadline. That last day and night were H E double L. It was push to you die. Payback for every minute I’d missed writing during the week. No time for writer’s block. Finish or else! Still, the family knew I had to stop to eat. I was allowed to stop to eat. So I did, even when it wasn’t mealtime, even when I wasn’t even really hungry. I didn’t feel guilty for taking a break to eat.

I didn’t even think about it that way at the time. In fact, I’ve just really noticed it, thought about it, in the last few months. Now I can’t “not” see it. When I’m stuck or the writing just seems to suck, and I’m sitting here trying to force words to become sentences and sentences to become pages, I run from it and use food as the excuse. Someone who likes food as much as I do, doesn’t need an extra excuse. (Smile)

It’s great that I have found this flaw, since we have to find the flaw to fix it, but this means I need to fight two battles at once. I’m still trying to get back to my fiction writing, to a decent writing schedule. I have to become productive or toss in the towel. One of the two! Stop or go already!

So here I am trying to make daily -- or at least almost daily -- writing a habit again, and in the middle of it, I’m on a diet again. One seems to be combating the other. So I’m losing at one or the other each day it seems. If I try to write, I eat more than I should, or things I shouldn’t. If I stay busy in other ways, like cleaning house, working out, figuring the bills -- which should make me want to write when I see the totals -- doing the household shopping, bathing the dogs, even doing e-mail or working on my website, I stick to my diet pretty well. But once I put my butt in this computer seat and open one of my Word files to work on a manuscript, I freeze up. I do a few words, and doubts hit me. I do a few words and can’t think of what to write next. I do a few words and wonder why I’m wasting my time. I stare at the screen and do no words, and then suddenly remember I’m hungry. I don’t give in right away. I try a little longer, maybe get a few more words out, and then I lose.

I guess like everything else, I just need to take this one day at a time. Maybe one writing session at a time, until I stop thinking that being unable to write should be rewarded with food. I don’t guess rewarded is the right word. I probably should say comforted with food. When I find it hard to write, I look for comfort when I should just keep writing through the hard spots. All of those finish pages at the end of the day will offer a lot of comfort. (Smile)

Monday, November 08, 2004

Getting Organized

How do things get out of hand so quickly? Books, papers, mail, clothes, whatnots, magazines, odds and ends, everything! It can happen to anyone. It happens to me a lot. Even my e-mail in box gets cluttered and takes on a life of its own. (Smile)

I’ve put my foot down on a lot of clutter lately. Wait, I don’t mean things are so cluttered that the mass has spilled over onto the floor. (Smile) What I meant was I’m trying hard to put an end to clutter. That’s a big deal for a pack rat like me. I’ve gotten rid a lot of stuff -- out of my closet, out of my shelves, out of my cabinets, out of my files, and even out of my in box. I can’t live up to that declutter law that says if you haven’t used it in six months, toss it; but I’m getting better.

And part of that is getting organized.

So I’m working on my desk, my files, even my computer files, and the info I have collected for the three manuscripts I have underway right now.

(Yes, I said three. I’ve had a long standing rule of only allowing myself to work on two manuscripts at a time, never starting a third until the present number one or number two were completed, so don’t ask me where I slipped this time. Oh, why the rule you ask. Because it’s so easy to reach that half way mark, where many of us find ourselves getting stuck, and move on to another manuscript. That’s why so many writers have so many started manuscripts and none completed.)

I’ve made myself a new folder for each of the three I’m working on. I’ve printed up every note and idea I’ve sent myself about them through e-mail. I’ve printed up the on-line research I did for them, I’ve gathered up the magazine articles or any other paper with info for them that I have collected, and all of this stuff has been put into one of those three folders. I have a few completed manuscripts that I want to polish up as well, and I’m going to do the same thing for each one of them. That way when I get an idea or a spark of something that I could fix in one, I can jot it down or print it up, and put it in that folder. The same if I read an article or find a bit of research that might come in handy for one. Should make things a lot easier and should keep me from losing ideas and research that I might really wish I had later. (I actually used to do this when I first started writing. I should never have stopped.)

As far as the rest of the house being organized? Like I said, I’m getting there. I do find it harder to let go of some things than others. Since I’ve lost a brother and both of my parents, anything that they liked a lot or gave to me, or made, I just find painful to give up, even if it’s broken or not useful. But I’m learning that it’s their memories I cherish, not their things. I just have to keep telling myself that letting go of their things isn’t letting go of them. They will always be with me.