Lately, I've been focusing on how to be efficient with my time and how to spend as much as of it was possible writing. I have the drive, I have the ideas, it's writing time.
But I am also a flawed human person, and I've noticed that I sometimes spend the quality writing time on not writing. Realizing this, I naturally started to yell at myself internally. How are you gonna be a writer if you don't write, Jen?????
Then, my rational brain took over, and I realized that the first thing I had to do was define what this not writing was. It was further fueled by an intelligent writer friend posting FACEBOOK IS NOT WRITING on her facebook page. I love when my facebook friends are smarter than I am.
This is NOT WRITING:
--Playing Spider Solitaire. Yes, I get to use my problem solving and logic abilities, but shifting the cards into numerical order by suit is not writing. Also not writing is hearts, sudoku, and that game where I shift the diamonds and jewels around.
--Reading every opinion on the latest news of the day. Yes, I try to be well-informed citizen. However, how much insight do I really need? It's okay, the world keeps turning.
--Looking at the webcam at the Marina Aquatic Center. UCLA's Marina Aquatic Center is located right on the main channel of Marina Del Rey. I can see the boats updated at fifteen minute intervals. Coool. Boats. Look at how pretty the water is, and the sky, and look, there's another boat going by. Awww. Okay, stop.
--Facebook. From clicking like to posting witty comments to reading what other folks have to say about the news of the day or their cats. I like the instant connection, but I'm not writing. I'm scrolling. Stop the scrolling.
--Twitter. Okay, yes 160 characters could be writing. Twitter novels have been written. It's cool when people post funny things or pictures of their travels. Again, stop the scrolling. By the way, you can follow me @RoboSunshineJen. I will be tweeting this blog.
--Anything involving photos or watching video. I am not a photographer or a videographer. I am a writer. I write words. I can draw inspiration from photos and video, but there comes a point where the images have to stop. The funny Star Wars parodies have to stop. The brilliant photos of impressive landscapes have to stop.
--Messaging, Texting, Instant messaging. Okay, yes, they involve words, and I think it's great that people can just text to get a quick answer to something. But not writing.
--Scrolling through my music to find inspiring tunes to write by, settling on one song, then going to another, then jumping to another and another. No, I'm not writing. I'm just listening to music. Sometimes, the music helps, but sometimes it is just an excuse to point and click.
--Blogging. Uhmmm. Errrrr. Let's move on, shall we?
I'm not trying to be down on technology. I think it's great that I can post this and folks can see it. I would rather write novels in Microsoft Word where can delete and shift text than on a typewriter (I remember what a mess white-out could be). I can find answers to my trivial questions instantly. I like that I can work anywhere with a laptop.
But I have to remember that with all this technology comes distraction. Fortunately, there are still on/off switches and ways to log off. I can still find ways to be only in my own brain. I can still find ways to slow it all down to do the writing.
As I was finishing this piece, I was also reading a great book of correspondence between Paul Auster and J.M. Coetzee called Here and Now. In one letter, Coetzee writes:
I know there is a lot of romantic bullshit spoken about the writing life, about the dispair of confronting the blank page, about the anguish of inspiration that won't come, about unpredictable--and unreliable--fits of sleepless fevered creation, about the nagging and unquenchable self-doubt, and so on. But it's not entirely bullshit, is it? Writing is a matter of giving and giving and giving, without much respite. I think of the pelican that Shakespeare is so fond of, that tears open its breast in order to feed its offspring on its blood (what a bizarre piece of folklore!). So I think of you in that lonely place, dishing up yourself into the gaping mouth of the Remington.
Here's to writing til it hurts with the feed turned off.