I took this iPhone screenshot at 8:09pm for the visual pun.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s entry, I want to stop procrastinating. It is my goal for this year, even if I might not cut out all of my bad habits. The idea is to start.
One manifestation of living on Procrastination Street is writer’s block. It is easy to put off writing because the rewards aren’t so immediate. Twittering my time away or posting witticisms on Facebook get more response, but those sentences are sent out on the quick and don’t take much process to make it into a story or a poem that expresses an idea.
I have an MFA, dammit, but I knew a hundred or so people in my program and we were all crammed in the same workshops trying to get attention and feedback, and even praise. Unfortunately, it’s a horribly expensive way to get a writing audience and I’m still paying for it. Another drawback is that some participants can be downright stupid. It’s even worse when it’s framed with smart, intellectual phrasing. All I wanted was the writer’s equivalent of an art studio, but I’ve learned that I couldn’t find it in the classroom or through all the alcohol soaked events I had with my fellow MFA program friends. I even found that a certain professor who should have been my mentor in the program turned out to one of my biggest detriments to my MFA career. Yes, I have written about him too. Thank God I was able to walk away from that and find someone who was a help to me.
Even with the helpful professor, I found I still had to deal with myself and my writing habits. He helped me find poets and writers to read for my benefit and I took used unstructured spare time to get into the zone. Some semesters I was blessed with plenty of time on my hands, while the last couple of semesters where I worked as a TA were taxing. When it was just a few classes and a nonsense job a few hours a week, I could find the time to creatively zone it. With being with students, I found the experience emotionally draining and I could not get lost in unstructured writing or art time as I would like. Instead, I felt like I was hung over after teaching and that I needed to recover.
Even after a couple of years teaching post-MFA, the energy issue hasn’t gone away. I still feel spent after a class session with students and I have to pull myself together to meet my obligations. After the classes, I feel ruined and I don’t even want to touch a book or to string words together into a coherent story. I don’t completely hate teaching, but there clearly is a personal cost to me. A benefit is certainly unconventional hours—I’m not penned up in a cubicle all day pretending to work while doing Facebook and having my three square meals of I Can Has Cheezburger. The issue, however, is balance.
Ideally, before or after I’ve prepped and graded work and have done the lecture, I could do those things I need as a writer such as write, of course, and read to feed my writing. Even with the constant practice of writing, some rewards, such as publication or adoration, are not guaranteed.
Unfortunately, some rewards are more immediate. Tuning the world out, giving myself over to sloth and watching tons of movies on Netflix Instant Viewing are some quick returns, but I ultimately accomplish very little in the end. And, I just hate myself even more.
I may often desire a “room of my own” or some ideal writing environment. When I lived in Downtown, I had a great room, one with a view. Forster allusion aside, that is an apt description of the place. Living there, all kinds of thing happened to distract me, so having the room wasn’t always the answer. I had some people who stayed with me for a while and overstayed their welcome, but the solution is simple: KICK THEM OUT. However, in that room, all by myself, I could fritter away my time watching too much TV or doing nothing and that was the bigger challenge. It’s something I still face post-Downtown apartment.
Essentially, I need to just sit down and take time to write my stories. That’s what I’m doing right now in the middle of the night with this post. The TV’s not on, Netflix Instant Viewing is not running, and my Twitter Profile/Facebook statuses are silent. If I’m going to sit on my ass, I might as well make it productive. I may not get a perfect draft the first time, but writing’s never been about instant gratification. If I have that great story idea in my head, it’ll take some work for it to translate on paper.
Trying to run to cafés may not always be the best way to go about trying to get writing done. The idea is to be able to write anywhere, anytime, especially where you live. Also, there aren’t always perfect times to write. Just do it. That’s how I’m going to proceed with it.
With that said, I think 2009 is going to be a good writing year for me.
Scott and I claimed two tables at the Adams Avenue Twiggs and had a computer tête-à-tête. This works more for social coffee/internetting versus actually getting anything done.
Coffee and bagel – nice way to start the new year’s, though not to be done every day. They’re handy props to have near a pen and notebook, or even a laptop for writing, but not always good for writing.