Beginning with this week, until April 18, I am living a self imposed writerly life. My final project for the two year creative writing program I am in is due on April 18. Right now, it seems to be in a million pieces, each in various stages of development. I am no longer writing any new material for the project, thankfully, but I am re-working, revising, re-visiting, re-writing, re-thinking, and basically any other re-ing you can do on a writing project.
My self imposed writerly life for these two weeks consists of the following:
l. Cancel all social engagements. With the exception of a theater ticket I can’t get out of and one dinner with friends, I’ve cleared the deck of socializing. This is very difficult for me as so many of you know, I’m nothing if not a social person. Saying “no” to an invitation even just for coffee makes me feel I am missing out on life. But what I’ve learned is that I need huge swathes of time to write. Or at least to think about writing. The words don’t appear on the page exactly when you want them to. So I have to leave tons of open time to allow them to appear when they see fit. Sorry, friends. I’ll be back in two weeks, promise.
2. Only do what I have to. During these two weeks, I am teaching some yoga and working at the yoga studio as per usual (this I want to do, of course!). And I must take my yoga classes. But that’s it. I have a meeting with my advisor today, and I’ll do my ushering at church on Sunday. Those are my commitments and I’m sticking to them, but no more.
2. Try to keep a routine. I used to write into the wee hours of the morning, and still do, on occasion. But that is usually because I’m busy during the day. Now that I’ve pretty much cleared the deck for two whole weeks, I don’t have to write all night long. I can write during the day. What a novel thought. I am up with the sun, usually awakened by heart palpitations over the project. This isn’t good but it does get me going. I do some stretches/yoga, get the usual required “stuff” done, drink 3 shots of espresso (think that has anything to do with the heart palpitations?) then hit the desk. I am giving myself time frames for writing with break time scheduled. Like right now. During the breaks I try to do a bit of yoga as my back gets very stiff from too much sitting. I make sure to schedule time for my favorite tv shows like last night, The Good Wife. And to call my mom. I try to get a decent night’s sleep, for me, that would be seven hours but it is usually more like six.
3. Limit alcohol consumption. I used to think a glass of wine or a beer helped my writing, and often times it does. But many times it just makes me sleepy. Since I’m writing more during the day right now, I’m not prone to imbibing.
4. Eat healthily. The other night I consumed half a bag (maybe it was three quarters) of pita chips and felt like you know what the next day. Lesson learned. I’ve been on a fish/veggie and the like diet since (ok, it’s been two days but still.) I actually got rid of the salty/crunch snacks hiding in my cupboard. I do have one piece of Trader Joes dark chocolate each night. It’s only 100 calories and isn’t dark chocolate good for you? And yes, it contains caffeine, hm…
5. Music. My writerly life includes playing my fave music loudly. It gives me energy. Good thing I am at the end of our hall and no next door neighbor on one side, the other one is always gone. I’m listening to everything from the Rolling Stones/Mick Jagger to new stuff from Fitz and the Tantrums. And every now and then I allow myself to get moody…the soundtrack to 127 Hours is a new one I’ve added for that purpose.
6. Ignore everything. The cat hair, dust, garbage, piles of papers, phone calls, dirty car, you name it. I do put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher though. And I make my bed. Oh yes, and take care of the kitty litter. Everything else? Forget it.
7. Sit down and write.
Simple, huh? This is day three for me, so far so good. It’s a luxury, really, to have this time and I feel compelled to use it wisely, not to waste it. Maybe you can help keep me on track. We’ll celebrate come April 18.
Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you’re able to maintain your focus too, on whatever it is in your life that requires it.