Monday, November 14, 2016

That Really Deep Writing Post // Part #4

And here we are with another That Really Deep Writing Post (you can find the others here). You could either interpret this as me being good at gleaning post material from random places, or me being too lazy to think about other things at work besides more work. (That sentence made little sense. Please ignore it.) 

Onward and upward. 

Think Long-Distance Running. I realize I’ve used this comparison several times over the past couple years, but I know from my years running cross country that it is painfully accurate. When you begin the race, no matter how many miles you have ahead of you, it can be tempting to sprint right from the starting line. But you can’t afford to do that with long-distance running. You have to pace yourself, or you will burn out/injure yourself (and also possibly vomit). Only start sprinting when the finish line is almost in view. 

The same goes for writing and working custodial. Janitorial work is not especially difficult, but it is strenuous (if that distinction makes any sense), and it can be easy to set a pace I can’t maintain for nine hours. I don’t want to use up my limited energy in the first two hours, only to find myself lagging more and more as the day progresses and the sun goes down. That is a recipe for an anxiety attack. 

You can bet this applies to writing as well, specifically NaNoWriMo. It can be so temping to ignore sleep and meals and hygiene in favor of writing until you can’t feel your hands on the first day. But unless you know from experience this won’t burn you out, you’re going to be in trouble sooner rather than later. And you could cause permanent damage to your wrists and shoulders. If you’re in it for the long haul, you are allowed to do what you like, but you might want to consider maintaining a consistent (but challenging) pace until the final week. 

Deadlines. I have to get my custodial work done before I can go home, which means I have to stay focused and keep working even when I don’t feel like doing anything. I don’t get the luxury of taking a nap when I feel like taking a nap (which is always). Likewise with writing under any sort of deadline, like NaNoWriMo. You can’t afford to slack off when you’re not feeling it. If you are going to reach your goal this November, whether it’s the 50K, or some other number, you are going to have to write even when you would rather be doing something else. But the end result will be worth it. And if you’re like me, you need the deadline to keep that fire under your butt burning hot and bright, or you’ll turn into a sad potato. True story. 

Alone, But Not. I’m alone a lot when I’m doing my job, but there are also plenty of times when I'm not. There are days when the silence of the empty building gets lonely and scary. Likewise, sometimes sequestering yourself in your writing cave might not be the best option for your sanity, even though you still need to get your work done. Writing in coffee shops can help with this, as can hanging out on the NaNo forums. When all else fails, maybe buy cutouts of the hottest actors you can find and talk to them while you work. (That sounded like a better idea in my head.) 

There are also times when the sounds of other people in the building make my anxiety worse and I would rather be alone. One of the functions of my PTSD is that being in crowds, especially crowds of loud young people, can trigger flashbacks, even when I have my earbuds in. Similarly, sometimes the people around you will be too distracting when you’re trying to write. Maybe they won’t give you flashbacks, but they might give you anxiety or slow you down in other ways. Sometimes you can come up with solutions for this, but other times you’re just going to have to grin and bear it. But if I can clean through the flashbacks, you can write through the distractions and the anxiety. I believe in you. 

What about you, my little coffee beans? Do you like writing under deadlines (self-imposed or otherwise), or do they kill your mojo? What are some ways you cope with unavoidable writing distractions?


  1. I definitely write with deadlines for my job and for novel writing. They help me get things done. Thanks for the encouragement, Liz!

  2. Hey, I like that actor cutout idea! lol

    Haha, deadlines are basically the only way I get anything done. If I think I can do something later, I probably will, so deadlines force me to DO THE THING NOW. :p


  3. I'd like to make deadlines but actually taking them
    seriously is the problem.