Recently I’ve been taking steps to change my writing habits; to unPavlov my dogs, so to speak. It’s not so much that my routine to date is destructive to life and/or limb. Nor have I been salivating at the sound of a bell. It’s that I have somehow conditioned myself to rationalize a lazy and overtly random writing schedule as some kind of effective work ethic.
And it works fine for me, if by “fine” you mean that I’ve achieved measureable results despite a professional approach to writing that borders on the pathologically lackadaisical.
Basically, up until now I’ve written what I’ve wanted, when I’ve wanted, and how I’ve wanted. Which means I had a great deal of free time, but not much in the way of success.
So now I’m taking steps to remove such windows of enjoyment from my life. It seems counterintuitive, but I’m discovering, as I get older, that I’m more interested in reaching personal goals than re-watching episodes of Star Trek.
Although I will never completely stop watching Star Trek. Don’t try and stop me on that one.
I’m lately yearning for more satisfaction from the writing life, both in output and in possible financial recompense. It’d be nice for writing to be the main part of my existence and not simply a side project that once every few years gets me a little attention. I’d like writing to be a career, not a hobby with benefits.
So I’m pushing myself. I write at odd times. I break out the laptop while sitting in my doctor’s waiting room. I muse over my writing choices during my lunch break rather than play online Scrabble.
But lethargy always triumphs. Lethargy equals lazy, lazy equals easy, easy equals happiness, and happiness equals re-watching the “Amok Time” episode of Star Trek. Did you know Theodore Sturgeon wrote the script? What do you mean, “Who’s Theodore Sturgeon?” Next you’ll be telling me you don’t care that Harlan Ellison wrote “The City on the Edge of Forever,” the one with Joan Collins. Honestly, sometimes I don’t know why I bother.
I’ve tried everything. Rewards for good behaviour. Punishment for bad. Special treats if I hit a desired word count. A belly rub for completing an assignment. A long walk to celebrate a new idea.
Nothing works. I’m a poor writer when it comes to habits, but I’m even worse as a supervisor. I look into my big brown wet puppy-dog eyes and automatically forgive myself. I just melt. How can I stay mad at me? Look at me, I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll obviously do better next time ‘cuz I feel so bad right now.
Who wants to go for a ride in the car? Me! Me!
I’m hopeless, an unrepentant self-enabler. I like the freedom of writing, but I need a boss.
Anyone interested in the job?
WANTED: Stern authority figure. Pays nothing. No benefits offered. Must have own car. Experience with day care preferred but not essential. Must be able to withstand constant whining and wheedling. You will be allowed two vegan ice cream bars per day, as well as a tub of freezer-burned chili. No freaks. Job start date: ASAP.
Yes, I’ll write the next chapter soon, but I gotta go outside now! It’s important! C’mon! Awwww…