In a recent post, I described how some burgeoning social anxiety was starting to creep its way into my writing. The end effect was that I found myself writing in an especially guarded fashion, especially on this blog. Upon reflection, I decided I simply need to bite the bullet, keep it simple, and limit my proofreads when it’s time to post. I can’t afford to agonize over every word I type on this site.
Since then I’ve done….ok. Not great, but ok.
My first post after the holidays was about my experiences with my daughters during Christmas week. That one was easy. I had stories to share, they mattered to me, and I was able to let the words fly. From there, I wrote a post dissecting my reactions to the Chicago Bears 2013 season. It was hit-or-miss. For a lot of it, I was able to loosen up and let myself rant, but there were moments I had to consciously force myself to stop trying to sound like a sports writer. I felt good enough about the final product, but I suppose it’s up to you whether I succeeded or not. As far as this post is concerned, I’m just trying to crank it out as fast as I can. I’ll allow myself one proofread and click Publish. Damn the typedoes, full speed ahead.
Yup. I just said typedoes. (Um…Copyright Christopher V. Alexander)
And this hot on the heels of my bringing the term indorktrination into the Alexander house. (Ditto!)
Somewhere, my wife is reading this and say Hands off, ladies. He’s mine.
80-90% of my writing gets done before I go to work, usually in the 5:00-6:15 am range. It sucks getting out of bed at 4:00, but I established this routine because it’s the only free time I get with the house to myself. The problem with this schedule, though, is that it can be fundamentally self-inhibiting. I often find it difficult to get into a groove because I know that by 6:15 I’m going to have to force myself right back out of it.
I didn’t fully understood this phenomenon until a few days ago. Our first two days of school this semester were cancelled because of the polar vortex (or whatever the hell they’re calling it) that hit Chicago, but after a two-week layoff, I decided to get up at 4:00 anyway. And the damnedest thing happened. I wrote. I frakking tore it up. Monday and Tuesday both I hit a nice rhythm and knocked out 2000+ words before my daughters were out of bed. Basically, because I knew that I didn’t have to go anywhere on those mornings – because I knew I wasn’t going to have to get out of my groove – I was able to get straight into it.
Unfortunately, I really can’t recreate those circumstances until summer vacation rolls around. I can’t skip work. So what’s a boy to do?
For now, I’m just trying to mindset. Instead of worrying about the time, I’m focusing on my word count. Instead of telling myself I want to write for a good hour this morning, I’m setting tangible benchmarks. The goal right now is 1000 words per morning, which for me typically translates to about 60-80 minutes. And, like a weight lifter who’s started seeing renewed gains by counting his reps down instead of up (10-9-8..instead of 1-2-3…), I’m getting solid results from this simple shift in thinking. Although I’m still writing from 5:00-6:00ish, I’m no longer and staring at the clock. As a result, I’m not letting looming deadlines impede my productivity.
Speaking of which, the most productive I’ve ever been as a writer was about 10-12 years ago. I was living along in a new town, hadn’t made many friends yet, and spent most of my evenings at the computer. Now, obviously, having an abundance of spare time on my hands counted for a lot. But – unshocking confession coming – the biggest difference was that I wrote almost every night while putting down a few beers. Many of the greats would attest to the magically lubricating power of alcohol on the creative mind, and – even as ungreat as I am – I can enthusiastically trumpet my agreement.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m no alcoholic, and I don’t think I’ve ever written a word while I was *drunk*. But for a while, I had basically adopted a policy of write tipsy, edit sober. And my productivity was off the charts. The secret? A good buzz…which typically equals heightened self-esteem and lowered inhibitions. It’s nothing short of amazing the way a drink or two can silence the little voices nagging at the back of your mind.
I shared this with my wife recently – we were discussing my post on persona and social anxiety – and after taking a moment to mull it over, she said “Maybe that’s what you need to do.”
“What?” I asked.
“Maybe you need to write in the evening and have a few drinks.”
Hands off, boys. She’s MINE!
Conveniently enough, my wife’s going to be out of town with Daughter the Younger tomorrow night. I’m pretty sure if I have the energy after putting the Elder to bed, I’m going to take my Friday night whiskey in the office at the keyboard.
We’ll see what happens.
As always, thanks for reading.