March 02, 2009

Writer's block sucks

It's been a while. I'm sitting on the couch enjoying what is soon to be twilight, with a nice cup of coffee. That's been a while as well so I'm enjoying that as well. A lot actually. I have some music on. Basically, I'm having me some alone time hoping to get my creative juices flowing.

I feel kinda out of touch with myself lately. I've tried to get back in touch as well, as the past couple of posts on this blog document. They mostly start with "It's been a while" and end with promises to get writing again. Yeah... so much for that.

I don't exactly know what I've been caught up with. Loads of different shit. I'm still working out work - it's been three months and I'm just now fully settling in, finding my place, my co-workers are getting used to there being another person now, a woman even, and I'm finding ways to get my opinions heard. We've shifted my schedule from two 8-hour days (+ 4 hours at home if a journalist needs something) to three 6-hour days (+2 at home). This was initially my idea because I felt a bit like an outsider, and I'm very happy with the result. I think my boss and co-workers are too. This way I'm a lot more "plugged in", get more of a feeling for what's going on at the job, know what projects to expect. I also asked to be included in meetings and that helps a lot too.

But I'm only working 20 hours so that's no excuse for not writing. I've been spending quite a lot of time playing World of Warcraft. I know, I know, addiction danger yadda yadda. But I'm sitting here writing right now and not playing so shut up about it already :) The game still is this fresh new thing for us. And since we're playing together most of the time it's not exactly an unsocial thing. It is however a reason for being out of touch with myself.

I've also gotten a bit internet weary these days. Facebook, Twitter, reading blogs - I woke up one day and it had all turned into this big obligation. I had to check Facebook and lost hours on twitter every morning. Hell, even at work I caught myself spending an hour on the damn interwebs before getting any work done. And my feedreader... well, I'm a bit OCD when it comes to this shit, which means that unread feeds make me nervous. I like my feedreader all clean and empty. So I had to learn to let it go and let the damn feeds unread. And even though it sometimes makes me uneasy to look at the bulk of unread items in my Google reader I'm managing to only read something when I'm really in the mood for it.

Of course this also means that I'm hopelessly behind on all blogs and probably haven't noticed you have a new job/had a birthday/got married/had a baby (actually, I do think I'm up to date on all the new babies in my blogsphere) and even more likely haven't congratulated you on it. Sorry about that. So... I decided to "quit" the internet. Well, not actually quit quit, I'm not nuts yet. But I decided to not do the social media thing when I don't want to. And for now this is working fine for me.

So we have work and WoW and the interwebs. What else... ah yes, that tiny little matter called writer's block. To me writer's block was always something I associated with creative writing. Couldn't write a single poem? Writer's block. Couldn't write a novel? Life-long writer's block. But it's not something I ever connected to journalistic writing - heck that's partly why I became a journalist! I get stuck with my creative writing but I figured there's always going to be topics to write about for the media. Granted I was always a bit worried about actually finding those topics that other journos always claimed where lying on the street. It turns out I'm not that bad at finding things to write about, in fact, the list of topics in my Outlook tasks is immensly long.But surprisingly I can't seem to get them down on that virtual paper called MS Word. I've never ever experienced this before. Ever. I was always able to write. But these days I... I don't know. I did write a couple of articles lately, but nowhere even near the amount I could've written (and earned money for). If there's some pressure I'm fine, then I'll just end up doing it somehow. But no pressure - no write.

What's worked is a trick I found via The Golden Pencil. I wrote my last article shortly before going to bed, when I was dead tired, and ended up getting it done in about half an hour plus an hour of editing the next day instead of taking 3+ hours to get the damn thing down on paper, which is probably how long it would've taken had I been fully awake and editing myself right away. I guess I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and do a couple of graveyard shifts.

It also helps that I'm being by myself this afternoon. I love having Finn at home, but she's been sick with sinusitis for about 10 days and I didn't really manage to squeeze in any me-time for a while. This afternoon with my cup of coffee was exactly the right thing for me. I might actually manage to make the changes I have been planning to make now: Write more again, finally read the about eight non-fiction books I've let slide while plowing through tons of urban fantasy novels and slightly sappy science fiction crime stories.

Speaking of changes: I've decided to quit my membership at Shinergy Zone - because frankly, I'm not using it anyway. The people there are indeed to posh and stick-up-their-ass for me. And considering how much I'm paying I'm not happy with what I get for my money. Idiotic timing - the classes are from about 9 to 11 a.m. and pick up again at 6 p.m., for € 80 a month I expect there to be classes all fucking day long. They have still not managed to install a proper ventilation system and I'm not happy about sweating with about 20 other people in a stuffy room. And the showers seriously suck too.

Instead I've decided to try some new stuff. I might end up paying more in the end if I decide to do a bunch of different things instead of doing it all in one studio but at least I'll be getting something for my money. Tomorrow night I'm starting the dance-experiment. I have this theory which is actually more like a fact than a theory: I can't dance. But I'm willing to prove myself wrong so I'm going to go to a hip hop dance class tomorrow night. I'll then decide if I want to continue it for the whole semester. I'm also going to try out a different martial art, Wing Chun, on Thursday to see how that will go.

As soon as it's a bit warmer again I'll take the bike to work again. And to university which is starting next week. I've decided to do two courses (assuming I get in), that should be enough right now. If I get the feeling that I can easily handle some more I'll do more next semester.

Oh... I think I've run out of things to write. But since I'm getting close to the 1000th post of this blog I have been planning to get started on a couple of more insightful if not to say more meaningful posts.


Rebecca said...

I'm going to have to try that writing tired trick. Something that used to work for me when I was in college and stuck on writing a paper was watching a movie. But not any movie - something that seemed, to me, to go along with the style in which I needed to write. One particular time I was just completely STUCK - just could NOT start this paper. It was for English literature, so I decided to watch Little Women to get me in the literary mood. And it totally worked. So, I don't know. That helped me.

Also, this is probably utterly useless advice, but in case it's NOT... I used to get sinusitis all the time, and what would really get it out of my system would be drinking TONS of water. After two or three days of that it was almost always gone.

Yay for you and the hip hop and martial arts! I used to love taking random dance classes (I am an unbelievably bad dancer, just FYI), and I was just thinking this afternoon that I wanted try hip hop. Definitely write about how it goes!

Laura Valerie said...

I'd suggest to do completely different things than writing/thinking about it.

Write when you feel this poet's yearning for poetry (or the journalist's yearning for articles) again , not any sooner.

Laura Valerie said...

... du nimmst diese Abstinenz von social media aber ziemlich ernst, hm? Ich bewundere deine Konsequenz.

mccutcheon said...

@L. god no, I'm still online on facebook and twitter quite a bit. However I'm not a slave to social media anymore. if I don't follow twitter on weekends I don't and that's that :)

AliBlahBlah said...

I love the idea of writing tired (although, surviving on a few hours sleep a night these days that's pretty much my MO right now!). You wouldn't know it from my blog but I always over-edit.

I also agree about google reader/bloglines. Just looking at all those unread blogs scares the crap out of me sometimes!

As for your afternoon with your cup of coffee - good for you! I'm getting some 'me' time in right now at 6am before my peeps start clamouring for my attention....

mccutcheon said...

@ali: I'm impressed you even get any writing done, what with two little kids :) same goes for @Laura - you two scare me simply by getting things done while being mothers.