Thursday, July 18, 2019

Put on the headphones

Hellooooo all. It's been hella hot in the Poconos, and I am loving life. There is something to be said for when the heat pushes 95 degrees in the mountains. The freezing pool water actually feels refreshing for once. I do love a good thunderstorm when the evening rolls in and washes the humidity away.

So this is my children's last week of camp. Nothing like the eleventh hour to make a girl hustle. So what did I do? I set the ultimate deadline. Finish the goddamn revision this week before I head out to see Silversun Pickups in Stroudsburg. That's right. It's summer concert season, baby. And I intend to reward myself.

I canceled the gym this week. Put off an overdue haircut. I realize this sounds super bougie, but I was simply trying to reclaim hours for work. I probably (read: definitely) would get more stuff done if I just did the stuff in the first place and didn't fart around (as my mom would say). A lot of this is psychological. I am one of those terrible people who needs adequate conditions to write. Like quiet. And snacks. And certain cloud coverage and moon in retrograde. I kid. However, I am definitely the kind of person who procrastinates in order to avoid the drudgery of working out plot problems or trying to come up with another way to describe a character's mannerisms. Writing is work. It's fun in the beginning when the story is new and full of rainbows, but then it becomes work. Mundane, difficult work. And who enjoys that?

I envy authors (mostly men) who get to sit in a quiet spot and work uninterrupted. The only way I can do that is if I wake up at 5am (which I have done) or start writing at 9pm when the kids are in bed. And my brain is akin to oatmeal at night. I sometimes read forum posts where writers (again, mostly men) lock themselves in an office and work until it's finished. They announce to everyone that they did a marathon drafting session. The only way I've done that is by driving an hour away and spending money on a hotel. Either these writers don't have kids or they have a very awesome spouse who watches the children and keeps them out of the workzone. It's what I do when my husband teleworks. Cuz I'm awesome like that. Remember, behind every successful man is a great partner and behind every successful woman is her own insatiable ability to just get stuff done. Women are superheros.

But distraction-free writing isn't always an option. So I've compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you finish that draft. Even if you're working inside a rodeo. Here goes:

  1. Buy noise-canceling headphones.
  2. Listen to classical music. I use YouTube for this.
  3. Send your kids outside.
That's it. Three things. I'm serious.

I find I do most of my best brainstorming in the shower or when I'm driving--two very solitary activities. I work out the plot problem, scribble it down, and then put damn headphones on and two hours worth of Mozart, and I am working. It's dumb I know, but I'm tired of writing whiny blog posts about how hard it is to juggle life. I want the pay-off. I just gotta put on the headphones.

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