For every work there is a deadline

On a typical day in the writing life, I might stumble into my home office, where several motivational NaNoWriMo posters and offbeat art cheerlead my efforts from the walls. There, I set up my laptop on the cluttered desk.  I notice it’s cluttered, mutter something about fixing that at some point in the future, and attempt to carry on.  I turn on some appropriate music (something that vaguely promises a revolution now, or a pleasant female vocalist).  Then I realize that I’m thirsty and go put the tea kettle on for hot water.  I open up a new document, type an opening sentence and delete it a dozen times, then hear the tea kettle screeching at me.

After I brew a perfect cup of tea, I change up the music.  Adjust my desk chair.  Contemplate de-cluttering.  Survey other projects that are not getting done.  Set an alarm. Realize that the fragrant tea is not engraving a brilliant novel on the computer screen–I have to do some chiseling.

But who do I fool?  I try to set up routines, carve out space each day for writing; but it simply does not work.  Wave a deadline in front of my face, though, and the words wend their way to the page. There are some drawbacks to this reality:  the less sleep I’ve had, and the closer the deadline, the longer my sentences become, labyrinthine monuments to unfolding thoughts that gleamed with the spark of fools’ gold in the early morning light.

For good or for ill, though, deadlines are the magic that make me write.  This is why I like NaNoWriMo so much; it is no respecter of routines, effective or otherwise.  It breaks into my life, forces me to write at gunpoint, burgles some of my time back for a novel.  I also appreciated semester’s end at school for similar reason.

The other part of routine that I do find effective is changing locales.  My home office is great, but deciding to go out to a coffee shop to write makes it seem more like a scheduled activity.  Alas, even with specific cafes I find myself slipping into routine activities and standard beverages that help me avoid writing.   So I must be promiscuous in my routine, changing place and caffeine catalyst constantly lest the anti-muse of distraction catch me.  The anti-muse and I are old lovers; only in hiding, shape-shifting, teleporting can I hope to evade her!

Fortunately, there are a lot of coffee shops in Lawrence, and she seems to forget them quickly.  Hopefully she won’t notice that I’m cheating with a deadline now!

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