Happy Friday, folks. I don’t know about you, but I find shortened work weeks to be a mixed blessing; confusing at best and frustrating at worst. Oh, I enjoy the extra day off, don’t get me wrong, but…well, I deal in something that’s quantitative just as much as qualitative. I have a word count goal no matter how many “work days” we have in a given week. I know it would seem that a day off from work would give me more time to chew through that word count, but I’m also human. I’d like to enjoy that occasional day off, and that can throw a real wrench in the works. Guilt and/or frustration can build up and before you know it, I’m beating myself up for just wanting to take a break. It’s an unhealthy habit.
Which brings me to today’s topic. You see, I have some bad writing habits. I admit it. I’m a Bad Writer. I do things that probably shouldn’t work. For example, I don’t keep a set time to write, as is suggested in most writing manuals. I find that doing this transforms writing from something fun to an ongoing chore. So I grab writing time where I can. Sometimes it’s at my desk, with a cup of tea or a Mountain Dew, my mind locked into some story. Sometimes I write on the elevator, when a particularly good conversational exchange has popped into my head. I’ve written on trains, when a particularly vivid image grabbed me, and I’ve written during walks. I manage to get a good amount of writing done even with this strange schedule, for I believe in making writing itself a part of your daily routine, something that you don’t just visit once in awhile, like a country, but part of a lifestyle.
I don’t have an action plan. Oh, sure, I have a rough schedule in my head, and I know which books fit into my writing future in roughly which order, but I don’t have a plan that specifically states “you will start on Friday February 22nd and write 2,000 words a day. This manuscript will be 60,000 words and thus you will be finished by X date.” I know, that’s supposed to be a Good Writing Habit. I’ve tried it. It actually made me write less because, again, the whole thing became a mechanic, another function, rather than a living breathing thing.
My writing space is a mess. People say your surroundings are a reflection of your inner world and…well, yeah. I have to admit that’s accurate in my case. I’m not talking hoarder levels of mess or anything, but for a number of reasons I do tend to spread out and my organizational skills could certainly use some work. The damn thing is that that’s how my brain works. That’s where I find things like the random image of someone clutching their chest in a dramatic turn of events – my mind is filled with clutter, and every so often I turn it over and find something incredibly useful. Sometimes it feels like I’m one of those junk artists who pulls all that crap together to make something more valuable. I’ve been told that this is a common state of mind for us ADHD sufferers, and the trick is to learn how to live with it and be productive rather than letting it destroy things.
For a long time, I thought that these bad habits made me deficient somehow, that I couldn’t do what other writers did and therefore would find limited productivity and success. I realize that’s crap now. My number one lesson is learning that writing, for me, is a spiritual exercise. Creativity is about communion with something greater than oneself, whether you consider it the collective subconscious, upper or lowercase god, or simply unrealized self. When you think of it that way, doesn’t this make a whole lot more sense? For some folks, the best path to spirituality is through organized, rigorous practice – and I think that’s just fine. For other folks, like me, spirituality is best found through the vicissitudes and messiness of ordinary life, a series of events that slowly accumulate into a whole much greater than the sum of those rough-and-tumble parts.
To put it simply, my creative and spiritual processes, for whatever reason, defy categorization and standardization. That troubled me for quite some time, but I think that I’ve come to terms with it. No, better, embraced it, and I can now be proud of being a “Bad Writer”.