Writing Process?  Procrastination Process? Same Thing.

Here is an essay that I wrote for my writing class. It was an extra credit paper, so I was a lot less formal in the format. It entertained me, so I figured I would share it here. The paper is supposed to be about my writing process.

Writing Process?  Procrastination Process?  Same Thing.

Getting ready to sit down to write is a huge process for me.  I normally work in the garage, since no one in the family really likes hanging out there.  It’s usually cold and lonely and amplifies the noises from the neighbors.  It is the perfect spot to get some quiet, away from the household noise.

I have several steps that I need to take before I get going. If it is in the morning, I shower and fully dress, down to shoes.  If it is in the afternoon or evening, I am usually already dressed, so I can skip this part.  Next, I have to get the dishwasher going.  I need to empty out the kitchen garbage cans, compost bag, and recycling bag and take them all the way out to the bins.  I have learned that if I don’t do this, I will keep trying to get up to get it done, and it distracts me.  I have to start a load of laundry.  Besides being a chore that could potentially distract me, the noise from the washer and dryer help drown out the neighborhood noises.  The dryer helps heat up the garage a little, so my work area isn’t so cold.  The buzzer at the end of the loads helps remind me how much time I have been working and that I will need to get up and stretch.  Sometimes I ignore it, though.

Next I need to clear off my table in the garage.  My daughter sometimes uses the area for her school, so I have to move her stuff into a nice, safe place that is easily accessible for her.  I have to plug in the space heater and the lamp.  Then, after the work area is clean, heated and well-lit, I have to bring my laptop out to the garage and set it up.

I need to inform the family that I will be working in the garage.  This serves multiple purposes.  First of all, it lets them know that I expect them to be quiet.  I expect this, but I don’t usually get it.  Someone will have an emergency of some type.  My favorite is when they forget their keys and “don’t want to distract me by opening the garage door.”  A phone call or the doorbell ringing is much less distracting in their eyes, I guess.  Flipping open the mailbox and asking me to open the door scares the heck out of me when I am fully concentrating on what I am doing.  

Secondly, the “working in the garage alert” lets the family know to bring down their laundry so it can be run.  Also, if someone cooks a meal, they know where to deliver it to me. 

Finally, it lets them know that Molly, one of our dogs, is welcome to come down and help me.  She serves multiple purposes, too.  She is company that doesn’t require me to listen to her chatter.  She is a heated backrest for my chair.  She is a guard for the mailbox so the mail carrier doesn’t try to kill us when the mail comes flying in or when one of the family members talks to me through it.  She is also a snack-eating helper.  Using Molly as an eating helper is a minor distraction, though, because I am not always sure that pups can eat certain people food.  I have to stop to look online to make sure that she can eat what I am planning on giving her.  I had no idea that dogs could eat almost any kind of cheese, but never blue cheese.  Potatoes are ok, as long as they are cooked.  I don’t normally eat raw potatoes, so that’s not an issue, but I learned that dogs can’t eat them anyway.  No onions for Molly.  Most nuts are no-no foods for the dogs, too.  I try to not look up food that I am not actually planning on giving her, since I could be doing searches all day long.

Depending on the time of day, I will get a cup of coffee or tea to bring to my work area.  I have a blanket and sweatshirt ready, just in case.  The blanket is technically a Tinkerbell Snuggie, but we won’t get into that right now.  I prepare snacks or whatever meal will be eaten next and put it next to the cup of coffee or tea, next to the laptop.  Molly helps guide it there and will later remind me of where I left her portion of the snacks.    

After the family is alerted, the laptop is set up, and Molly has finalized her plans for keeping me company, I check my calendar for upcoming due dates and check the computer for anything that I may have left hanging.  Homework assignments have due dates that sneak up on me so quickly.  Bills become due between paychecks.  Blog posts that were scheduled have all been posted and I need to get more posts written and scheduled.  Emails need to be checked.  If I miss the check the computer steps, I am tempted to stop writing and check in on what needs to be done before I can finish writing.

When I have done all of my stalling and most of my procrastination, I am set for actual writing.  I have my drinks and snacks to the left of my laptop.  The mouse is on the laptop itself, in the lower right corner of the keyboard.  My phone is further away, on vibrate only, so I am not tempted to look at it, but close enough that I can answer it if it rings.  I am good at ignoring texts and other phone alerts, but phone calls might be an emergency.  I have a small notepad over the touchpad on the laptop’s keyboard, so I don’t accidentally relocate my cursor while I am typing.  It also serves as a place to make a list of things that I will need to take care of when I finish writing, so I will remember, but I won’t get up and actually do them while I am supposed to be concentrating.

I begin by opening a Google Drive document and jot down the plan.  If it is a school assignment, I post the instructions at the top so that I can refer to them as I am writing, so I know that I am staying on topic, then I start writing .  If it is not a school assignment, I start writing random thoughts on the document.  I type whatever comes into my head.  I write a sentence or two and then another thought comes into my head, so I start a new paragraph to put that thought down so I won’t forget that I want to mention that.   Sometimes, I will go back to the original paragraph and finish it.  Sometimes I will just run with the new thought and finish that paragraph.  Many times, I will get to the end of what I am supposed to be writing and I find that I have about 20 half sentences and 5 or 6 full paragraphs.  I need to go back and edit.  I either add those half sentences to the completed paragraphs or I write new paragraphs.  When there is a full paragraph or thought that I need to cut out, I start a new Google Document to put rejected thoughts into it.  I might need them later.  They were good thoughts once, so they don’t need to be completely thrown away.  

Once I have full paragraphs, I start cutting more.  I very rarely write less than the required word count.  Many times I have written a thousand words over the word count because I lose track of time when I am writing.  Given a required number of pages, I am likely to double that on the first round of writing, especially when I go back and remember to format the document so that it is double spaced.  I have to go back and read the piece over and over, taking out what I think isn’t needed.  The words sit in the reject document, just in case I change my mind later.  I usually don’t change my mind, but I have left the option open. 

When I get close to the required number of words or pages, I start taking out my filler words, such as “that” “also” and “I think.”  I didn’t need them to begin with, but when I am trying to get the thoughts into the document, I don’t worry about including them.  Get the thoughts out.  Everything can be fixed in editing.  

Eventually, I go back and make sure that I have a beginning, middle and end.  I try to make sure the paragraphs make sense in the order that they fell.  I add a few more words and try to make sure every sentence is complete.  I usually miss one or two, despite the fact that I have read it so many times, but there comes a point where I just can’t read it any more.  I declare it finished.  

I convert the document into whatever format is required, and I hold my breath, cross my fingers and submit it.  This is the hardest part of the writing process for me.  Once it has been submitted, it is out of my hands and the control freak in me just doesn’t do well with this.  Someone else has the next step – reading it.  

I do not stop writing at a logical point.  I stop when I am finished.  This might mean that I am finished for the allotted time.  It could mean that my eyes are too tired to continue.  It could mean that it’s time for Molly to go to bed.  There is no real rhyme or reason.  I just make sure that I clean up my area and put everything away, so I can start with step one the next day.  

Last week in review

Last week was a long week at work. I spent longer hours there than usual. This normally isn’t a problem, but it was also the first week of school. This week took a lot of planning. On three different days, I had to do three of my classes at work before heading home.

I decided that I needed a reset so I managed to get a pedicure and made an appointment to get the oil in my car changed. I caught up on homework and made an appointment to meet with the TA of one of my more difficult classes.

I think that this semester will be good. I am trying to get myself organized and learn what is expected for my classes. There is a lot of reading for them, but it’s doable if I organize my time well.

I’m glad that I got blog posts written ahead of time and I have alerted my bookclubs that I’m not going to make some of the meetings. Now I just need to stay on top of things and keep a tight calendar. So far, it’s going OK.

Changing of the guard

My pets love to help with homework. Molly helps keep me warm by squeezing in behind me and putting her head on the arm rest.

Inky helps by sitting on my lap, or my laptop, or watching from the side.

This particular day, I finished working on homework with Molly and I went inside to shower and change and then to continue. After I got settled, Inky settled in, waiting for second homework time to start.

They are very serious about their homework supervising jobs. They keep me warm and usually keep me company while being quiet-ish.

Quarantine Causing Introverted Behavior

Quarantine causing introverted behavior

The above linked article tells about being isolated, but not alone. It mentions how overwhelming it is to be online for hours every week, even if it is just doing nonsense, like watching TV together.

I truly understand how the author feels. I have Zoom meetings almost every night. I try to limit them, but with school, it’s nearly impossible. Some days, I have had 5 meetings, back to back. It’s too much.

Unfortunately, I have had to cancel the social ones, since the school meetings affect my grades. I have told my friends “I just don’t have enough social in me this week.” I can’t think of another way to explain it.

More homework help

A very sleepy Molly decided to help me with homework. She climbs onto the back of the chair and lies down behind me with her head on the armrest. Thankfully, it’s a little chilly right now, so her heat doesn’t bother me much.

Here’s what Molly looks like wide awake

Molly plays hard, makes a mess, and then lies down at my feet in the mess she made. She loves to tear apart cardboard boxes and leave the pieces everywhere.

She usually is a good homework helper. She has a few issues if the film that I am watching has a dog in it. Yesterday, she decided to find a very noisy toy to play with during my Zoom meeting. No one could hear anything, but we got through it.

Was that an Age Crack?

A friend of mine has a similar personality to me when it comes to getting things done. When my homework is due on Sunday at midnight, I want to have it done by Thursday or Friday, to give me time to resubmit if I need to and to give me some time to have something unexpected come up. It also gives me a little free time on the weekends for family, bookclub, and other non school things.

I was running behind a little this week, and I had complained to my friend. I posted my last assignment that was due this week at 930 pm on Saturday. I messaged her and she said “congratulations! Now go to sleep.” I asked if it was an age crack. She assured me it wasn’t. I still kind of suspect that it was because that’s what was next on my agenda.

Are You Doing Homework? Can I Help?

I was multitasking as usual. I had stripped my sheets off the bed and was starting to gather my school stuff together. I came back and found that my seat had been taken by my backup helper. She peeked over the top of the blankets to check to see if I was going to make her move. Yes, I did, because she usually won’t sit with me, unless she’s on the opposite side of the room. She moved when she realized that I wasn’t giving in.

Doing homework

Here’s a photo of my homework helper. She’s doing her job as a paperweight very well in this case.

She has various ways to help. This morning, it was knocking the books next to my bed over to make sure I was awake enough to start my homework.

My favorite is when she’s attempting to sleep on the keyboard of the laptop while I’m in a Zoom meeting or trying to type a paper. She’s really helpful.