I’m supposed to be writing

It’s amazing what I can find to do when I am supposed to be doing something else. I can look around and find things that need to be done. Garbage cans that need to be emptied. Laundry that needs to be done. Correspondence that needs to be sent.

Work needs to be driven to. Dogs need to be played with. Meals need to be cooked, planned or ordered.

The gym needs to be visited. Electronics need to be charged. Messes need to be wiped up.

I can also find lists to make. Websites to peek into. Rabbit holes to go down.

I have many books to read. Movies to watch. DVR to clean up.

Homework needs to be done. Paintings need to be painted. Dishes need to be washed.

Bills need to be paid. Papers need to be shredded. Stuff needs to be brought to the car.

Audiobooks need to be heard. Schedules need to be organized. Finally, reviews and blog posts need to be written.

I eventually get there, but there is always something to do. Writing needs to be a little higher on the list than it is these day.

Shut Up and Write!

I recently joined a new group. It is similar to the Silent bookclub, but we write instead of read. We are meeting on Zoom right now, due to Covid restrictions. This works out well for me, since I prefer to not lug my laptop out any more often than I have to.

Today was the first time I went. This particular group starts with a half hour of chat and a random question for everyone to answer with their introductions, and everyone tells what they plan on working on. Then we write for an hour or so and come back and tell how it went. Because I have to check back in, I know I have to sit and actually get stuff done.

I will meet with another group tomorrow afternoon. The rules there might be a little different, but I am adaptable.

There are several groups that meet in person in my area, but they tend to be mid-week, during the mornings. I can’t meet then.

As I am writing, I am thinking that this could be done for reading, also. I wonder if there’s an online Silent bookclub these days.

Writing a paper in the shower

I have three papers due by the end of the semester. One was to compare two pieces of literature. I finished up the readings and was processing what was in my brain.

I came up with some great ideas while I was in the shower! By the time I got out, I had completely forgotten a third of the ideas. At least my brain tried and I caught most of them.

What is Your Passion?

For one of my assignments for school, I have to write a paper on my passion. It was written vaguely on purpose. I have to come up with something to write about. What will I write? I assumed that, since it is for a writing class, I should be leaning toward books. While I could write about swimming, I don’t think I am prepared to read a lot on the topic, given the other assignments I have.

As part of the discussion when we were given the assignment, the instructor asked if we had read or watched anything interesting lately. Hmmmm.

I have been listening to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on audiobook. It got me thinking about how it differs from the written book and from the movie. I haven’t yet watched the movie, but I will get to it before I truly start my paper.

I have to research the whole thing, so between the three types of media, I think I will be able to find enough to write about.

I have the project for a second class completed and ready to present, and another project for a third class almost completed. I am stalling on the paper for the final class, but it will get done before the due date.

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.  

A 2 page paper

For one of my classes, I had to attend a public government meeting. I found one with a topic that I felt strongly about, and took notes at the meeting. The meeting was supposed to be an hour long, but, because I wasn’t the only one feeling strongly about the topic, the meeting went on for 3 and a half hours. I had a lot of notes.

I started writing the assigned 2-3 page paper, without the notes, just answering the prompt questions that were assigned. An hour later, I realized that I had 7 pages written! Oh my goodness. I had better start cutting.

I ended up spending an hour cutting and found myself with 8 pages. So much for cutting out pages. I spent another 6 hours cutting out paragraphs and descriptions and my own opinions to get down to 4.5 pages. Cut some more.

I ended up with a 3 page paper with 2 lines on the 4th page with the bibliography. Not bad for a rambler like me.

I turned it in, then realized I didn’t quite answer one of the questions, but I hope it’s good enough to pass the assignment.

Guest Bloggers

For a while, I had a couple of friends guest blogging. They both decided that it just wasn’t for them, so they gave it up, but the option is still open for them.

A few weeks ago, I got an email to the blog email address, asking me if I was interested in taking on another guest blogger. I replied to it, asking about what the person has written in the past. No response. This person has a blog set up so I took a peek. Makeup and grooming. Well, I write about a lot of random stuff, so OK. Maybe.

I still haven’t heard a thing back. I’m guessing that they gave up. If you suddenly see a post about grooming habits that includes more than showering, toothpaste and hair brushing, you’ll know why.

1500!

Well, it seems like we got there! There are actually a lot of posts that have yet to be published. They are scheduled and ready to go over the next couple of weeks.

We are well on our way to 2000 posts.