It’s been almost an entire year since I posted on my blog. 365-ish days. One revolution around the sun. Twenty-six fortnights, for the old-fashioned.
My excuse: blogging doesn’t pay – at least not my blog – so, therefore, it falls low on the priority list. Life here allows for time, money, and energy for lots of cool, new things, so I’m often busy with all kinds of activities.
I’m only kind of embarrassed to admit I’ve read enough inspirational books and quotes to headline a Tony Robbins conference (although I suspect Tony Robbins actually headlines those) or at least manage a really beautiful Instagram page. All that inspiration…inspires…me to get out there to try new things and meet people and I’ve found myself pretty busy at times.
My dance card is quite full these days. I practice yoga four times a week, pretend I know how to use my hips in a Latin dancing exercise class, and play soccer with a bunch of other middle-aged people and kids. Back in the fall, I delivered supplies to the migrant caravan and took an improv class. I love improv – you basically make yourself feel like an idiot on purpose so when you’re in real life and you feel like an idiot it’s not that big of a deal. Improv basically desensitizes you to your own idiocy.
What else? I translate 73 WhatsApp messages from Pickles’ school daily that are mostly about who is coughing and whether anyone has seen a red hoodie. On other days, I decorate our minivan in a rainbow of paint colors by scraping it against walls, chase our imprisoned rescued dog Teddy down the street when he escapes the fence, and attempt to locate the cause of the mysterious itchy, blistering welts all over my body by googling “itchy blistering welts” and clicking on “Images.” (Some activities are more #bestlife than others.)
In addition to all that leisure, I’m regularly applying for freelance writing jobs, pitching articles to magazines, completing jobs when I get them, writing for Scott’s business, and writing a novel. I know, I’m a total cliché. Move to a foreign country and write a novel! I just need an antique typewriter, piles of loose paper, and a little gazebo by a lake. Maybe a pretty housekeeper who only speaks Portuguese.
I started a book in September 2017 and it was…slow going. And then, about a month ago, I decided to scrap that whole book and start a different one. The new one is better and I’m working a lot faster on it. The kids are convinced it will be a bestseller with a 3-movie deal and they’ll be living off an inheritance one day. They’ll pretend to have real jobs, maybe as an influencer, handbag designer, or white rapper. The pressure of providing my kids with millions of YouTube subscribers and a friendship with Lil’ Yachty has really made me buckle down.
I try to write 500 words per day, every day, or more if I have the time. That’s a lofty goal considering I have an extracurricular activity schedule that rivals that of a nerdy SGA president. Once I add hanging out with friends, family life and kid maintenance, making money, and regretting Teddy, I run out of time.
Recently, I googled “writing discipline” to see if I could find some tips on how to commit to my 500+ word goal. I was not disappointed; I found loads of advice and compiled my favorite tips and gave them a go.
Understand where your lack of writing discipline comes from. This one felt accusatory, yet therapeutic. Basically, why are you such a loser? It’s probably my mom’s fault – she shouldn’t have let me quit piano (also: tap dancing and ice hockey). I also suspect she drank while she was pregnant with me.
Utilize the early morning hours. Ok, this seemed doable. I wake up at 6:30am to get my day started and my kids ready for school, so waking at 5:30am should give me some solid writing time. A quiet house, a cup of coffee and its enticing aroma, the serenity and focus of nowhere to be and nothing to do besides write – perfect. What I didn’t consider is that 5:30am is fucking early. So now my alarm goes off every morning at 5:30am and I turn it off and wake up at 6:30am like a normal person.
Set aside a predictable and comfortable spot for writing. I was writing with my laptop on a pillow in my lap, on my bed, propped up against my cushy, fabric headboard. It was both predictable and comfortable. But since I discovered the unexplained painful welts all over my body were actually bed bug bites, I’ve taken a break from writing anywhere to put neosporin and cortisone cream on my itchy, open, oozing wounds and cry.
Seek feedback early and regularly from people who don’t rely on you for sex and/or money. Well, where’s the fun in that?
Give yourself rewards when you reach milestones. Recently I was able to get through an entire movie without falling asleep or complaining about the lack of female characters with personal agency or a backstory, and that felt like a milestone. I consider the bottle of wine and bag of imported Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups I consumed during the movie to be a preemptive reward.
Write ‘Morning Pages.’ Sit down, first thing every morning and write three pages from your stream of consciousness. Apparently, it’s a meditative form of writing, to connect you to your intuition. It sounds like a great idea. I haven’t actually done it, though, because I can’t seem to discipline myself to get up earlier than 6:30am. I kept journals when I was between about 11 and 14 years old, though. They were all basically vomit in writing form or “stream of consciousness.”
Get plenty of exercise and eat healthy. This doesn’t seem like a writing tip. It sounds like the generic advice that’s offered up in one of those freebie waiting room magazines that have hot, white-haired people riding bikes on the cover. And not to brag, but I’ve done some of my most productive writing while simultaneously harming my body. But I get it – choose the apple and the peppermint tea instead of the jar of Skippy, bag of chocolate chips, and a spoon and maybe, just maybe, you won’t feel like a total disgusting waste of space with no willpower and that will transfer to your writing discipline.