In hopes to prevent others from making the same mistakes, I’ve decided to write a post today about some of my worst writing habits and how to avoid them.
Bad Habit 5: Drinking Too Much Coffee
Coffee, oh delicious elixir, how you complete me! You are my jump-starter and bittersweet lover! You mean the world to me. I don’t know what I’d do without you! Alright, enough of that.
Drinking too much coffee is always one of those things that tends to sneak up on me, especially if I’m out at a coffee shop writing. When I sit down to start a rewrite, it isn’t until my heart starts throbbing out of my chest that I notice the 5 empty coffee cups at my side. This is also a very bad habit for me considering I have poor heart health. Famed author Balzac literally died of caffeine poisoning. Although I don’t think I drink THAT much, it’s my hope to kick this habit eventually.
What really helps me is keeping a mental note of how many coffees I’ve had in a single day. When I get my first cup, I’ll say in my mind “number 1″. This way when my craving kicks in, I know how many I’ve had that day. Right now my limit is 3 *gulp* but it should be one, or none at all. Ah well, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Bad Habit 4: Biting My Nails
When I’m in the middle of an intense writing session and I stop to think of what to write next, without fail my digits find their way into my mouth. It’s not just nails either. It’s cuticles, knuckles, you name it. Considering that my nails are always in a state of serrated decrepitude, I’ve made a decision to try to nix this habit once and for all. Generally this is a bad habit that doesn’t have any correlation with writing, but for me this happens primarily when I write.
To stop myself from doing this, I’ve found that using surges of hand sanitizer or moisturizer on my fingers not only helps to sooth the dry flaking I’ve inflicted, but also acts as a taste-bud attacker. Believe me, this works. The second I get a taste of that sterile residue I stop biting and don’t think twice about it. I can type a lot faster, I spend less time thinking, and I spend more time writing. Trust me, your fingers will thank you.
Bad Habit 3: Driving Around
It’s unfortunate that I get a great deal of my best ideas while I’m out driving. Sometimes I’ll even get the urge to drive for several hours. I live in a very rural/boring area of Canada which provides excellent zoning out periods. It wasn’t until I started writing in public places where I noticed my ideas would flow best on the drive into town.
I don’t condone this kind of behaviour at all. Not only is it occasionally dangerous, it’s extraordinarily expensive as well. Gas prices have never been higher and a driving habit is probably one of the worst things to have right now. (Well, at least I’m not just burning or sniffing the gas, but I digress.)
To combat this habit, I’ve taken to walking instead. I’ll drive to a wooded conservation area or a nice neighbourhood, park the car and walk until the juices start flowing.
It’s also a lot better for my FAT ASS.
Bad Habit 2: Distracting Technology
Where do I even begin? Cellphones, the internet, video games, netflix, social media – they’re all so toxic for me right now. I can’t write unless I rid myself of all these things. My nostalgia for the past keeps me locked in cheasy MS:DOS games (now available on iPhone!), as well as old TV shows on Netflix that I can’t stop watching. They are all so distracting and it’s gotten to the point when I’m going nuts. Even twitter, which was once a great networking platform for me, has recently become a venomous time eater. Fear not fellow distracted writers, for there is a cure!
SHUT EVERYTHING OFF!!! (except your computer, if you need it.) As a result of my addictive tech personality, I’ve resorted to leaving my phone in the car, turning off my wifi connection and deleting addictive apps from my devices. It has helped my productivity soar in the last month. Some of you might remember my post about the gadget free day. I now stand resolute behind that statement. They are evil enemies of your craft and should be avoided at all costs.
Bad Habit 1: Feeling Sorry For Myself
I’m afraid this last habit has been the most difficult to kick. I struggle with it every day. (Hear that? That’s me feeling sorry for myself.) GUH, If I had a quarter for every time I stopped what I was doing and started feeling sorry for myself, I’d be a BAZILLIONTRILLIONQUADRILLIONAIRE. Even now, it’s not easy for me to write this because I feel like I’d be lying to myself.
When these pity parties usually start, it’s always when I’m facing a challenging rewrite. When I see the edit ahead of me, I take one look at the path ahead and turn around. Trek up a mountain just for a successful plot point? Kiss my ass! I’d rather sit on the beaches of my own lake of tears. Seriously, when will I get it into my thick skull that creative power is a result of positive personal affirmation? (Ah, there I go again. Being hard on myself.)
-No one is perfect.
-Everyone started somewhere.
-Don’t let others define your work.
-Small doable actions will take you further than big exhausting leaps.
These are all topics I’ve written about time and time again on this blog, yet I can’t seem to follow my own advice at times. I suppose that’s the nature of the beast being an artistic person. I have found however, that breaking this habit on occasion isn’t as hard as one may think. The key is to – WRITE ABOUT IT – I know that sounds silly, but writing about my problems in life both personally and creatively has always proven fruitful.
When I read through my journals, I can see my progress as a human being. I also find that I never run out of source material. There will always be challenges you’ll face as a writer. It’s best that you find a way to channel these problems creatively.
Hell, I even started a blog about it!
The point is that you DO something. Don’t just sit there and let it eat you up inside. Find like minded writers and TALK about it. The bottom line is that you must do something that is productive. Writing THROUGH these creative breakdowns is really the best thing you can do. Even if you only write a paragraph a day, what matters is that you WRITE.
I hope these crappy habits of mine have proven insightful. I realize things could be a lot worse. (I could be a coke sniffer or something!)
Sometimes, the best medicine is practicing that cliché of “getting back on the horse.”
– Daniel J. Pike