Write Until You Feel Like Writing

Instead of having a New Year’s Resolution for 2015, I opted to set myself a few goals for each month. They changed over time, depending on what I felt like I needed to work on. They’ve mostly been centered about writing, photographing, working out, and sleeping — all things I would like to do more of.

This month, instead of a weekly word count goal, I decided to set myself more of a process-related goal: write for at least 10 minutes at a stretch, three times a week. It’s not much time, really — a half hour total is hardly enough to get a proper writing groove on — but it was the three times a week that I really wanted to focus on. Instead of going on one big writing binge during a lunch break or two at work, then saving my work in Google Docs and pasting it into my blog later, I decided I would like to take some time a few nights a week to sit down with my laptop after my son goes to bed and spin out some of the stuff that’s in my head.

I really haven’t been feeling it. I find myself going down the smartphone rabbit hole, instead: Let’s read Twitter. Let’s check Facebook. Wonder what the weather will be like this week. Let’s play Two Dots. Oh, look, it’s my turn in Words With Friends. Let’s play SimCity. Let’s check Instagram. Wait, it’s an hour later already? How did that happen? Guess I’ll go load the dishwasher and head up to bed — where I’ll play one last turn in Words With Friends and check my SimCity again before lights out.

I’ve had some ideas bouncing around in my head lately that I want to get out, though, old-school blogging style. Ideas about friendship, and family, and relationships in general. But I’m not always (OK, not ever) in the right headspace to really dive into that at 8:00 at night. But that’s when I have time to write, so I need to figure it out.

This brain dump here really falls under the category of Write Until You Feel Like Writing. This brain dump here got me my ten minute goal plus some. This brain dump here made me realize that I do feel better when I sit down and write.

I feel more connected when I write than I do when I parse through my Twitter feed, or even when I write a 140-character missive in the hopes that someone will give a shit. Sometimes that feels like spitting into the wind, or sending a message in a bottle, or talking to no one particular at a party and hoping someone will engage me back. If it weren’t for the fact that those Tweets make it back to my blog as microblog posts, I would Tweet much more rarely than I do. As it is, it’s a way for me to basically blog one-liners and photos quickly.

Which brings us back around to me not writing as much as I would like, or as much as I used to.

Well, this is a step in the right direction.

Backblogged Again

I have this tendency, when I have specific events to cover in my writing queue, to avoid writing about anything else until I have those entries finished and polished and posted. Unfortunately, this means I sometimes leave these entries unwritten due to a lack of time or energy or other resources, until I finally declare blog bankruptcy and relegate these half-finished entries to a digital file of Stuff That Will Never Get Blogged.

I’m hoping to avoid that this time, even though I have things to say about Mom’s visit nearly a month ago, and Halloween, and my Physical Therapy regimen (which is about half over now), and my braces adjustment from a week and a half ago, and pictures from Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day last weekend, and a few non-time-sensitive things I have shaking around in my brain, too. There’s also some stuff I want to say about Connor — and that’s always time-sensitive, since he’s always growing and changing.

Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up a bit over the Thanksgiving holiday — if I apply myself, that is. Just because I have a few days off doesn’t mean that writing time will spontaneously become available to me if I don’t plan for it. Especially since I’d also like to spend some time with my family.

Writing is important to me. It’s so easy to forget the day-to-day things, to get wrapped up in stuff, and I love being able to look back on days past and remember the details I hadn’t realized I’d forgotten.

A Momentary Lapse of Blogging

I hadn’t realized how much I take advantage of downtime at work to tap out a few notes on what I want to blog about — until my hand surgery, and then a week of having a consultant on-site at work, and then almost a week of vacation. For two weeks in a row now, I’ve been way behind my 1,000-word-per-week goal — usually, I surpass it by at least 300 words.

There are so many things to write about, too. I got the cyst removed from my hand. I still haven’t properly lambasted Appliance Center for our refrigerator delivery debacle. Connor keeps growing and changing and doing super cute things, like making up dance moves to Do You Realize?? by the Flaming Lips.

It’s just so easy to let Life get in the way. And sometimes there’s no other choice but to let it happen and go with the flow. Sometimes, there’s no time to write because my son refuses to stay in bed, and I refuse to let him potentially trash his room to keep himself awake, so I keep going up and tucking him in (and sometimes yelling at him). Sometimes, my husband is on vacation and I use my hour of grown-up time after our son goes to bed to reconnect with him and just talk (or just listen).

But sometimes, like tonight, I carve out a few minutes to brain dump on my blog, despite having to right the piles of knocked-over papers and other shit by my desk, despite having spent half an hour snipping two giant handfuls of chives from the garden to freeze for later, despite needing to balance my checkbook and pay some bills before bed.

Butt in chair, like any other writer.

I know that the personal blog is a dying medium. I don’t particularly care. I’ve journaled since I was about seven years old, and this is the form my journal takes today. I love being able to go back and search it (unlike my volumes of paper journals) and see quickly when a thing happened and how I felt about it.

That’s why these lapses in writing are so important for me to avoid. I hate going back in my journals and diaries to what I know were important times in my youth or childhood, then realizing that the moments had been so hectic that I never sat down and wrote about them at the time.

Blogging isn’t THE most important thing. Not by far. But it is important to me.

One Thousand Words

It’s not much, really.

One thousand words per week. That’s equal to one really giant blog post (like my last Dear Connor post), or two or three average ones, or four or five tiny bite-sized ones (like extended captions for Throwback Thursday posts).

Of all three of my New Year’s Resolutions, this is the one that I’ve been the most consistent with. Every week, I have a green checkmark on the monthly calendar in my Hobonichi Techo, where I track my resolution progress. (Not so with my goals to lose 1.5 pounds per month or to scan in my son’s artwork from preschool.)

Only now is my word-count goal becoming a challenge. Up until this point, I’ve had posts ready to go in my Google Drive. I’ll take a ten-minute break here or a lunch break there and type out a few things, then eventually come back to my almost-done entries and polish them up before posting. (Assuming they’re still relevant by the time I get back to them.)

Finally, I’m down to entries and ideas that aren’t fully fleshed out yet. Things I’m actually going to have to spend time on to get them ready for posting.

Finally, my blog has the chance to return to what it used to be: semi-regular updates about my life in general. Not necessarily a gardening blog, or a mommy blog, or a photoblog, or a weight loss blog, or a journal of my orthodontic treatment, but a conglomerate of less-edited, stream-of-consciousness thoughts that go through my head as I go through my day. With actual substantive, topical, essay-type posts mixed in, of course.

That’s so 2000’s of me, I know. Nobody has a personal blog anymore — they’re all topical. Nobody cares about my dumb life, right?

Well, it’s my blog. I care. I love going back in time and revisiting my headspace in years past. And someday, maybe my son will, too.

Twitter Avoidance

I hadn’t realized what a habit it’s become to just pick up my phone and launch up Echofon. I justify it by saying that Twitter is where I get my news. Plus, no one has a personal blog anymore, so Twitter is where I go to find out what people are doing (instead of Facebook).

Truth is, it’s just a habit. A ritual. And like all habits and rituals, it merits some reconsideration sometimes. Why am I really doing this? Should I do it differently, or not at all?  (more…)

The Perils of a Personal Blog

I’ve been abstaining from Twitter this week and documenting my reactions to not having an instantaneous outlet. Long story short, I’ve realized how passive-aggressive or narcissistic I must seem with nearly every post. Jerkwad on the highway honked at me; got stood up for lunch; gained 0.4 pounds this week.

But isn’t that my whole blog, too? Look at me! This is my life! This is my son, my yard, my house, my family. This is what I do, who I am, how I spend my time.

Whenever I sit down to write a blog post lately, my husband asks whether it’s about my braces, my gardens, my weight, or our son. That’s pretty much what I blog about lately, because that’s what I do.

I guess I just need to remember that my blog is for future me. If I stopped blogging altogether, I’d be pissed at myself for losing that searchable record of what happened when. When was Connor potty trained? How long did I fight with these gardens before they became my own? When did I reach my goal weight? If I stop blogging, I lose the answers to these questions.

I don’t know. It still seems petty on some level.

Less Communicado

Doing a little experiment this week. Going to see how Twitter avoidance changes a) how much time I spend dicking around on my phone, and b) the frequency and content of my blog postings.

I mean, if someone mentions me, I’ll check Twitter, but I’ve moved my Twitter client of choice off of my dock area and onto the next-to-last page of apps on my phone.

Back in the day, I used to keep blog notes in a running email to myself or on scrap paper. These days, I have an open doc on Google Drive that serves the same purpose. We’ll see if collecting ideas throughout the day instead of spewing them raw from my brain changes what I say and how I say it.

Getting Back To Blogging

I never got used to typing on a laptop.

The keys are too short, and I have to keep my nails trimmed just so. I’m never sure of my posture and position — sitting cross-legged on the couch with the keyboard propped up on my foot, or hunched over my coffee table? I feel like I should be laying on my stomach, as if I were scribbling in my longhand journal, if I’m not sitting at my computer desk.

And then there’s the trackpad. Don’t even get me started. When I’m presenting from my laptop at work, I have to bring my mouse to the meeting to keep myself from looking the fool on-screen.

I guess where I’m going with this is that I really miss blogging.

I seriously have dozens and dozens of topics I’ve saved up for a rainy day — 43 saved in a Google Doc, 32 listed in my TeuxDeux app. The only ones that actually get written are the time-sensitive ones, and even those get delayed sometimes, almost to the point of no longer being relevant. (My monthly “Dear Connor” posts were originally supposed to go up on his monthly “birthday” of the 3rd, but they rarely get posted that early in the month anymore.)

The topics I have saved in my Google Doc are the ones that usually get posted, since I take a few minutes during my lunch break at work to write a paragraph or two. Over time, I get a coherent blog entry that wasn’t written half-assed while my son was watching Dora the Explorer, or in that last 90 minutes of Mommy Awake Time after I put him to bed (which is not quality thinking and writing time, generally speaking).

Once he’s asleep, I feel comfortable with going into the home office sans baby monitor and playing on my desktop computer. Lately, though, he’s been fighting sleep, and I’d rather not have to string up the baby monitor in the hallway to keep an ear on him if I can just hang out in the living room instead.

Right now, I’m sitting sideways on my couch, cross-legged, laptop propped on my left foot, leaning against some throw pillows, with a Sleepy Time tea on the coffee table beside me. My brain is fighting me, and my iPhone alarm is telling me that bedtime will come sooner than I think, and my left leg is starting to go numb — but I finally had to write.

I write for myself. If others read what I write, then they’ll get an insight into my life. Some might find my end of things exhibitionistic, or the readers’ side of things voyeuristic (or stalkery). I’ve been making my private journal public for over ten years, though, and I’m unlikely and unwilling to stop now.

I write for my current and future self. I write to get it out. I write so I’ll remember the important things. I write so I have record of who I am and what I’m thinking.

I get frustrated with my past selves (because haven’t we all been different people at different times in our lives?) for not recording important events like moves, separations, holidays. I don’t want future me (or future Connor) to get frustrated with current-day me for not writing about the important things — or the everyday things, which can be even more important.

It’s time to make writing a priority again. Not because I set myself a goal or a not-really-a-resolution, but because it’s important to me. Because I should.

Because it’s part of who I am, and who I have been.

I’ve got to clear all this shit out of my head.