When Not Writing Becomes An Art Form…

I’m a list-maker. I have lists everywhere. Scribbled on scraps of papers and post-its.  Written and neatly numbered in notebooks. Multiples notebooks. Typed in the notes section of my iPhone. And so on.  One of the items that is permanently on my to-do list, and appears as an almost daily line item in my planner is “write on Alliezog blog.” I have “blog post ideas” scattered everywhere in various stages of thought-vomit. Lists of potential titles, topics, open letters I wish to write to the world, top 5 lists and so on. But somehow I still manage to go days, weeks and sometimes months without publishing a new post.  My drafts folder is full, my notes are made, but I can’t get my sh*t together and hit publish.

Since I couldn’t decide which blog to complete today, I figured I’d take a closer look at all the excuses I’ve come up with as to why I don’t publish posts nearly as often as I want to. As a “writer” I figure I might as well make not-writing into a legitimate blog topic.

1) I have too much “work-related writing” to do and am mentally exhausted at the end of my days and unable to form comprehensive sentences.

2) I haven’t completely decided on my schtick yet. I constantly struggle with what I want my blog to be and whether I need to have more focused, category specific posts on here or whether I can ramble on about whatever strikes my mood one day, and the next day write about my favorite local hangs in Rhode Island. Who is my target audience? Who is my readership? How will I monetize this thing – and do I even want to – or do I want to keep this space all my own…? See the inner struggle alone is exhausting!

3) I tweet a lot. And post sometimes long, preachy messages on Facebook. And write all those aforementioned to-do lists. Sometimes I even type a cleverly worded text, Facebook message, or email or to a loved one. All that counts as writing right? See – I AM a writer!

4) I’m saving up all my creativity for when someone gives me a (rather large) cash-advance to write my novel…based on…the loosely crafted outline in my head, years of journals and occasionally typed and then re-typed outlines. Fingers crossed!

5) I need to travel! When I travel, I’ll suddenly open the flood gates of creative genius. I’ll totally write my first masterpiece in a sidewalk cafe in France (or England! Or in a hut in Bali!). Isn’t that how all great writers do it? I’ll be just like them!

Hopefully my overenthusiastic exclamation point laden sentences reveal the sarcasm and absurdness of my lame excuses. (I’m apparently real good at that show don’t tell thing writers are supposed to do…)

Hopefully airing it all out (and actually hitting publish on something) will get the writing process going again. If not, at least I now know I can crank out some more excuses and call it a blog post… 🙂

 

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On Establishing Routines…

Never have I ever…had a routine in life.  Is this bad?

I don’t wake up at the same time everday, I don’t eat the same thing for breakfast, and let’s not even discuss my bedtime.  Even when I had a traditional 9-5 job, I was never able fall into a comfortable morning routine. Some days I’d randomly be inspired to get up early, go for a run, make breakfast, etc, while other days I’d wake up at the latest possible second, counting off all the things I could skip in trade for a few more mins of sleep (if I don’t blowdry my hair I can snooze for 10 more minutes…and if I don’t shower at all, woohoo, another 30). When I worked for a relatively flexible company in NYC and the start time wasn’t set in stone, forget it. I didn’t even get my coffee at the same place each morning, always randomly stopping somewhere new and even switching up my subway line/walking route for no reason I can really explain.

I never really thought about it too much until recently, when I actually set out to give myself a more structured daily routine.  They say it takes 30 days for something to become habit and I honestly can’t think of too many things I’ve stuck with for that long, at least in terms of daily ritual. So now I’m curious, is this really bad? Is routine necessary for a productive life? Or on the flip side, is it better to not become too comfortable and “set in your ways?” Is being a creature of habit good, bad or indifferent?

As someone who works from home and juggles several clients and gigs, I’ve been grappling with how to best structure my days and also have time to fit in the things that are good for my soul. We’ve already established that getting up at the crack of dawn sadly didn’t work for me although I’m hoping to try again now that the weather’s getting warmer and the sun will be shining early and often.  I tried and tried to make the gym a routine but had the recent epiphany that my gym was actually a sad and terrible place for me. I’m not even being dramatic, there were just no good feelings that came from going there and so I’m ditching the membership in favor of outdoor workouts, yoga classes and maybe a little SURFSET Fitness in between.  All these things make me feel amazing, and I think that’s what working out should be about, not painfully sweating away the minutes in a grey, concrete, nearly windowless room. Sorry Newport YMCA, it’s not you, it’s me…ok, it’s a little bit you…

Recently I posted about writing everday and that’s something I’ve actually stuck to, for the most part, but I can do better! So here’s some things I’m hoping to turn into habits, and I’d love some input on how to best do it.

  • Personal Writing – Is there really a “best time” to write? I’ve read articles that say early morning is best, and even a study that stated we get our most creative ideas when we’re tired.  I think it’s about finding what works for you, but I’d like to carve out some writing time each day for blogging, journaling and ultimately for writing that damn best-seller already!
  • Fitness/Wellness – Notice I didn’t say “working out”  because I’m kind of over that word. I’d like to get into a nice routine however of yoga classes, outdoor runs and other happy activities that are good for my body and my mind. Oh yeah, and more clean eating and all that jazz.
  • Sleep schedule – A biggie for me. Seeking any tips and tricks on somehow keeping regular hours and shutting off my mind at night.

Thoughts, ideas and advice welcome, so fire away!

Write On…

Ok let me get this out of the way first, RE: my last blog. After a week (ok it was more like 2 days) of torturous early rising, I am admitting defeat. After telling a few (normal) people about my lofty goal (5:30am, ha what was I thinking?!), I was mostly met with this sentiment: Why would you willingly get up extra early for no reason? You are so lucky to be able to work from home and not have to be anywhere at an ungodly hour.

I tried explaining to my friends and family who don’t spend a large chunk of their time perusing Twitter and blogs for motivational/life improvement articles (I sometimes forget that I live in a very different world from my real life social circle) that getting up early was essentially the new trendy habit of highly effective people (or maybe it always was but there are just a lot more people writing about it now, thanks Medium…). My teacher friends/family who all get up somewhere in the 5-6 am region were pleased to hear that they are unknowingly on the path to surefire success, but after thinking about it I realized that I was being a little unrealistic. It almost seemed absurd to force myself to change my habits when my current lifestyle actually allows for me to flourish within the schedule that has always best suited me. I get a second wind at night dammit and I’m proud of it! Phew it feels good just to let it out…

Before you all go judging me and calling me lazy I should clarify. On average, I wake up around 7:30 am and start working somewhere around 8/8:30 am, which I think is totally respectable, especially since I technically could get up at 8:54 am, make a cup of coffee and “commute” down the hall to my office with time to spare before 9 am…not that I’ve ever done that…

Furthermore, I’ve realized that I should embrace my current nighttime energy bursts because obviously that’s when my brain is at its best and that’s when the universe wants me to do my thing.  Seeing as I don’t have children or any other evening obligations, I’ve decided it’s totally okay for me to use those hours as my extra time for personal writing, side projects, workday overflow, etc.

In terms of getting in a workout, I think I’ve found my ultimate workout sweet spot when my schedule allows it. This past week I’ve worked out everyday mid-afternoon as part of my lunch break. Whether it was an outdoor run, a quick gym session or a power yoga class, I’ve found that this is my peak performance time and provides the perfect break in my day and reboot of my creativity. Quick workout, shower, lunch and then back at it. I highly recommend fellow work-from-homers try this if/when they can.

You may remember that another reason behind my little experiment was for better compatibility with my boyfriend. While after only a few days of test runs and further contemplation, I realized that we both actually enjoy those quiet moments that are all our own, either early in the morning or late at night when the other is sleeping. On the first day that I did wake up early, I’m fairly sure I was interrupting his well-established routine of sipping coffee, watching ESPN and not speaking to ANYONE.

What can I say, maybe it stems from the fact that most of my jobs for the first 10 years of my working life were night jobs, or it’s just another thing to blame on my parents (kidding mom and dad!), who still stay up for the 11 o’clock news…and sometimes Leno…and usually scrabble on their computer (dad) or Pinterest on their Kindle (mom).  There’s also the whole little matter of my brain having a serious issue shutting itself off at night and thus makes falling asleep difficult, but I’ll save that for another blog post…

Whatever the reason, I’m declaring my first 2014 goal a wash, which brings me to my next fun little experiment for this year. Writing everyday. Obviously I technically already do this for work, but this time, it’s personal. I recently saw a few great blog posts (like this one from David Spinks) about challenging yourself to write everyday even if only for 15 minutes and even if (you think) you have nothing to say. Starting today, I plan to write everyday either in a personal journal, here on this blog, or as notes for future publication (for the best-selling novel I promise I’ll write someday). This won’t include freelance writing assignments or writing/blogging that I have to do for work, it will only count writing that is all my own.  To this end, I am looking to attend some creative writing workshops, writing retreats or other similar events in the coming months so if you know of any, please get in touch! There is coincidentally one this weekend right here in RI that sounds amazing but I sadly found out about it too late.

Any advice/feedback welcome. More to come!