Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Productivity And The Narrative


(have you done anything today?)

In spite of myself and the snow day yesterday, I managed to be minorly productive, editing for a couple hours and finishing up a job that's due Friday.

And then the "t" on my laptop's keyboard went out.

It's still not really working, in fact. I have to press the hell out of it and then proofread very, very carefully. Turns out, there are a plethora of words that utilize a "t." And just like that, all of my happy feelings about being productive drained away and I started thinking about why when I have time and the urge I spend it on work for other people. After all, I have two perfectly wonderful book ideas, both of which are almost completely outlined and have been started.

I also happen to have quite a few handy excuses as to why I "can't" write them right now:

1. One of them requires a better kitchen and more tools than I have unpacked. 

While technically true, this excuse is rendered invalid by the fact that much can be done while my new, beautiful kitchen is being constructed.

2. I don't have a camera to take pictures.

Not even technically true. I have a camera (not a good one, but it exists) and an iPhone. Tammy Stroebel works almost entirely with her iPhone and has all sorts of great recommendations for cheap or free editing tools. Plus, any blog named "Rowdy Kittens" must be authoritative on the subject. I do have a lovely camera picked out, thanks to my lovely friend Mandy, but in the interim, learning how to use what I have can only benefit me.

3. That damn "t."

And we arrive at the only excuse that holds any water. It has taken me four times as long to type these 296 words because I have to slow down and make sure I have hit the "t" in the correct place. I have also been trying to limit my use of the letter, which is proving highly problematic. I would like to throw this computer at the wall and buy another. That may have to happen sooner rather than later (see also "Computer shutting off when I move it"), as we pay rent with the writing I actually get paid for.

The main issue with #3 for me, though, is not dropping the cheddar for a new computer. It's what I need for work, and it's tax deductible.

It's whether or not #3 is just another excuse to avoid my own writing, and, if it is, why. This past weekend at yoga teacher training (YTT) we talked about the stories we play in our heads, the ones that keep us from letting go and moving forward. Like the ones about what we deserve and what we are good at. Every time I sit down to write those stories fire up in my head, and I think what keeps me away from my own stuff is how bad they make me feel. My name for this voice is the Anti-Cheerleader, and she is a loud, bossy bitch. In YTT we went through several meditative ways to get past these voices to see our true nature, and one among us went through Byron Katie's process of The Work.

Boiled down, it is remarkably simple: figure out if the story you have about yourself is true or not. If not, let it go.

Ha. Joke's on everybody because letting go of the narrative we have about our lives and ourselves and the people around us is incredibly hard. That narrative is why we stay in the crappy job and the bad relationship. It's why we follow the herd out of high school into college and don't actually choose a path so much as allow it to be chosen for us by what others say and think we should do.

It's why even when I write 10,000 words a week and complete a huge editing job and manage a rehab and take four yoga classes and docent two museums tours and do two days of workstudy and parent a child in one week that I still feel guilty for taking a nap in the middle of the day sometimes.

This narrative is what stops me from leaping more into my own writing: maybe it's not good. Maybe I don't deserve the success it could bring. Maybe it will bring more pain. Maybe I don't deserve a new computer.

You have a narrative, too. Maybe it says if you don't make XX amount of money you aren't successful. Maybe your story deals with how you parent or what life is supposed to be like (versus what it actually is).

Letting go of the narrative is incredibly difficult, but as with any process, the first step is identifying your story. What is your narrative?

(Today's blog was brought to you by the letter "T," that sonuvabitch)



  1. Gah! I can't imagine writing without a "t"! You're right--there are so many words that utilize that one letter alone.

    I know what you mean. I have a novel brewin' inside of me for so long I'm embarrassed to admit it. But I haven't done anything with it. I know it's a ways off, but have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? I'm thinking about it for 2015. I'm hoping I can prepare myself for it now :)

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment so I could find your lovely blog here!

  2. I made up my own 30 day non-fiction challenge in April 2011: NaNoFiWriMo. I wrote my first book in those 30 days, which was amazing.

    The difference this time is that need to do quite a bit of research for both of the current books, so no matter what 30 days is not quite realistic.

    In the end, though, I could certainly do more than I am doing!!!!

    Thanks for the comment!