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Relax, Writer!

BodhidarmaIncense

Poor Bodhidharma is really getting a workout.

 

I have a certain amount of trouble relaxing. Burning some nice incense is one of many ways I attempt to deal with that; as you can see, my incense burning dish really gets a workout.

 

It’s more than a problem relaxing. It’s a manifestation of my inner perfectionist. I have seen other writers mention their own perfectionism, and it usually relates to editing and re-editing their written work into oblivion, and them being afraid to let it out into the world, terrified that there will be an error they’ve missed, or an imperfect expression.

 

That’s a concern that I share, though not strongly. Of course I worry that I’m sending a story out to an editor or into self-published distribution with a glaring mistake, a gaping plot hole, a patch of ludicrously overwrought prose, or something similarly embarrassing. But it’s not a huge worry for me. I can hit the ‘send’ or ‘publish’ button without losing sleep.

 

For me, it’s about feeling that I’m not doing enough. When I have a great writing week and produce a ton of good work, I end up thinking about how much more I could have produced if I had somehow made more time for writing. When I have a crappy week, I feel like I’m Atlas and I’ve just dropped the world on my toe, and it has promptly rolled away threatening to flatten a bus full of nuns or something. It’s just terrible.

 

And it’s counterproductive. My gawd, it’s counterproductive. I’ve lost sleep over the perception of lost writing production or lost brainstorming time (and therefore lost ideas), then spent the next day feeling crappy and sluggish because I haven’t had enough sleep, which means that I produce little or nothing that day, which means that I feel even worse about my now two-day-old string of lousy production, which means…

 

Vicious circle.

 

Worrying about how much more I could do leads to doing less. It’s really very simple.

 

It’s another thing altogether to remember this when I’m feeling like I’m not doing enough. But I keep reminding myself, and I get a little better –a little, tiny bit better– as time passes.

 

I figure by the time I’m 150 I should have this whole ‘relaxing properly’ thing down pat.

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Need is a Four Letter Word

When something needs to be done, it’s an instant signal to resent having to do it, at least for me. It’s a nasty habit, this resentment. It’s part of that procrastinosaur that lurks in the bushes right next to the trail we travel, waiting to snap up the bits of our lives we let slip through our fingers.

I don’t like being told what to do, especially when the one doing the telling is the impersonal, inexorable, natural flow of events.
So what? As much as I dislike beginning to do the needful thing sometimes, I like the view of what needed to be done and is now finished receding in my rear view mirror.
It’s all a question of perspective… and for me, a matter of survival. Because if I let myself, I’m pretty sure I could sit on my butt looking at silly things on the internet until I perished of thirst. Because LOLcats and stuff.