In need of a garret


I’m in one of the Team Rooms at my university, despite the fact that it takes me an hour to get here and I have neither classes nor exams. Why?

Because I live with my parents and we get along. It makes it impossible to get anything done.

Well, impossible is an exaggeration. But it is damn difficult. I’ve never been a take-a-seat-in-a-coffee-shop-and-work-on-my-screenplay kind of writer. I’m a huddle-in-the-corner-furthest-from-the-door-trying-to-avoid-making-eye-contact-with-anyone-in-case-they-take-it-as-an-invitation-to-talk-to-me-while-agonizing-over-the-tonal-differences-in-various-synonyms kind of writer.

Shut up, that’s totally a thing.

My mom is retired, and she’s a lovely person who enjoys watching sitcoms and fine courtroom drama. I’m big on the former and can handle the latter. But she likes to talk about what she’s watching. And that’s a problem for me, writing-wise. Because, as anyone who has ever tried to write anything when they weren’t feeling especially inspired will attest, it can take hours to get into a state where everything is flowing, and it only takes seconds to completely derail it.

My parents’ house has a very open floor plan. The “office” is a mezzanine overlooking the living room. It’s really nice, because when you’re upstairs and you want to bounce an idea off of someone, you barely even have to raise your voice for them to hear you.

It really sucks, because when you’re upstairs and someone wants to bounce an idea off you, they barely even have to raise their voice for you to hear them.

You see the dilemma?

So, rather than tell my mom that I need to hermit it up so that I can get some writing done, I told her school wasn’t over yet and traveled an hour into the city to work by myself in one of the offices on my campus.

I don’t think this is sustainable. I am combing the classifieds for a garret to work in. Preferably a drafty one, where I can contract consumption that will lead to a Romantic era death that will then lead my writing to be read by morose people for generations to come.

Not really. But I do need to find a new metaphorical island. Or to just grow a set of lady-balls (ovaries?) and put my foot down about the whole lonely garret business. Probably that one.

But for now, I am getting a lot done.

How are you at protecting your writing time/space? Or are you a chatty coffee shop writer?




Failing NaNo and supersized goals


I failed to write 50,000 words during novel writing month. I have no defense except for schoolwork and Assassin’s Creed 4. Which I really want to be playing right now. It’s calling to me, saying, “Just climb a few buildings, you can write that blog post later.”

But I won’t, because I know that Assassin’s Creed is lying to me. Every time you think to yourself, “I’ll just do this one thing, then I’ll get to work,” you’re kidding yourself. We live in a world where we are constantly being bombarded with stimulus, and sometimes if you want to get anything real accomplished, you have to shut your brain down to it. That was something that I promised myself I would do during NaNoWriMo, despite the voice in the back of my mind (and the many people in my life who I told about my plan) saying that I was nuts if I thought I’d be able to actually do NaNoWriMo this year. I was resolved.

I’m bad at keeping the resolutions that I make to myself. Because playing Assassin’s Creed right now would be super fun, and not even something that I’d really regret later on, but it is not something that will leave me feeling fulfilled later. (Homework doesn’t leave me feeling particularly fulfilled either, but that’s of a necessary evil.) But it’s hard to remember what fulfilled feels like when you aren’t actively feeling it.

So I really have to rework my priorities.

My friend summarized The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin to me, and from what I understand it’s about looking at the things in your life that make you less happy and focusing on solving those problems. Each month of the year had a broad focus and several specific daily goals. I like this idea of doing little things to make yourself happier, to feel more satisfied in your life.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to focus on growth in specific areas over the next few months. The overarching focus of December will be writing because, having failed NaNoWriMo and being basically done with the first semester of my masters, I feel the need to focus more on creative writing.

These are my (somewhat) more specific goals for December:

Write every day—pretty straightforward, I think

Cultivate writing time—it’s so easy for other things to eat into your writing time, and it can be really hard to protect it. Even people who respect that you need time to write might not understand just how much time you need. That it’s not always easy to write even one hundred words, and that part of your writing time is getting yourself into the write headspace. And that the focus that took hours to achieve can sometimes be shattered by someone asking you the time, by loud birds, or something on TV. I like to work at night, because my parents were always early to bed and early to rise, so night was when I was guaranteed to have time to myself. I don’t know if I was always a night person or if upbringing turned me into one, but night is the best time for me to write.

Cultivate a writing space—focus shattering is part of why finding the right space to write in is very important. For me, the ideal place is quiet and removed from other people. I like to watch reruns of TV shows that I’ve seen a million times before while I write. I find music really distracting to write along with—though I do like to listen to music before writing sometimes to get myself into particular frames of mind.

Challenge myself creatively—also pretty self-explanatory, I think.

Put my writing out there—I’m a reserved writer. I don’t really like to give people access to my stories until they’re finished. I’m also a perfectionist. So this goal is to essentially make me get over myself. I’ll be talking a bit about the various online writing communities that I plan to try out in future posts.

Blog every day—this one may end up being the most difficult. I’ve tried to blog before, and I always lose interest but I also don’t really commit fully. Maybe it’s because I never have any idea what I want the subject of a blog to be, which makes it hard to post consistently. Or maybe it’s because I get super distracted by other things and forget that I have a blog. Who can say. But anyway, it seemed a worthwhile goal that fit under the umbrella of writing.

So … more to follow on this attempt at personal growth.