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Writer's block

The cat is making small noises as she sleeps on top of the heap of freshly-cleaned bedsheets.

I spent too much of the morning procrastinating, by vacuuming the house, cleaning the litterbox, cooking crepes, watering the garden, tending the worm bin, washing dishes, and doing laundry. I draw the line at lawnmowing. I skipped the household trip to Austin so I could get work done today. Time to shower and trim my fingernails. I'm spending the afternoon being irritated by incidental noises: the next-door neighbor's loud radio music and barking dog, someone else's leaf-blower, the mariachi music of the neighbor across the street. My small table, adjacent to the cat's litterbox, makes me think of Jane Austen's writing spot. I can't force myself to sit still. If I sit in the living room, the cat yells at me because she's on the other side of the fence. When all the chores are finished, I'm sleepy and slightly hungry. Time for a snack. Maybe time to cook some dinner.

Three paragraphs down, two paragraphs to go. Let go of the need for a perfect first draft. Let go of the need to intensively scrutinize the literature. Let go of the side points, about incidental things from other studies that are only tangentially related. Stop aimlessly web-surfing. Let go of constant connectivity.

I once naively thought that if I lived in a place with fewer distractions (=moving to Texas), I'd be more productive. That might still be true, and the lesson I might have learned is rather that when I'm relatively satisfied with my life, I'm more productive. Hard to say for sure. I create my own distractions no matter where I live.

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( 5 remarks — Remark )
twoeleven
Oct. 6th, 2014 03:01 am (UTC)
Stop aimlessly web-surfing. Let go of constant connectivity.
Doubtless good advice, but I use a wiki for notes, so I have a brower open all the time. I'm torn on email, since I agree that prompt responses are often very useful, but yeah, it's another distraction.

I create my own distractions no matter where I live.
I refer to myself as self-distracting. :)
rebeccmeister
Oct. 6th, 2014 01:10 pm (UTC)
I generally approve of the concept of scheduling in e-mail time. If things need to be fairly prompt, it's usually sufficient to schedule in a morning e-mail time and an afternoon e-mail time (and perhaps another time right after lunch).

Compartmentalizing is tricky, and I often have so many different agendas that keeping them all organized is a continual challenge, especially given that my ideal lifestyle requires a lot of running around, around here.
twoeleven
Oct. 6th, 2014 03:57 pm (UTC)
I generally approve of the concept of scheduling in e-mail time. If things need to be fairly prompt, it's usually sufficient to schedule in a morning e-mail time and an afternoon e-mail time (and perhaps another time right after lunch).
I suppose that depends on how you define "prompt". :) For exchanging drafts, twice a day is often very slow.

Being a computer jock, I tend to divide dealing with email into three steps:

1) Handling the interrupt (or "interruption" in standard English). Some email needs to be dealt with immediately (read fully, considered, and replied to). Most doesn't, which takes us to:

2) Scheduling. N-times-a-day works fine for a lot of email, and so those messages can be thrown on the queue to be dealt with then. Sometimes I just leave things in my email box as is, other stuff gets tagged/color coded for type of reply.

Sometimes I schedule stuff by moving up the next reply window. Other stuff needs even less priority, and can be dealt with at my leisure.

3) Execution. Reading, thinking about, and replying to a message. Takes random amounts of time and effort, which can in the worst cases, kill the rest of the day. :P (I can do about four hours of heavy thinking a day, and trying to push for more is counterproductive. There's plenty of stuff that's not "heavy thinking", but a surprising amount is.)
randomdreams
Oct. 6th, 2014 04:59 am (UTC)
There are an infinite number of things to do. There's some skill in managing to make what you have to do a high enough priority such that you actually DO it. (I need to acquire that skill.)
rebeccmeister
Oct. 6th, 2014 01:12 pm (UTC)
Around here I often get caught in-between different writing projects. It really doesn't help that the working environment at work is horrible for writing. I then wind up wasting too much time trying to decide to get up and go somewhere more quiet. It's one of those awful balances between trying to give an impression of being at work, and trying to do the actual work I'm supposed to be doing. My impression is that my next work environment will be more strongly focused on the latter - as a whole, this university is still WAY too strongly focused on the former.
( 5 remarks — Remark )

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