There was an error in this gadget

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How I Write

The method employed in my writing process consists of a complicated tangle of procrastination efforts, internal rambling, and self-editing that can take from as short as an hour to weeks or months on end, depending on the perceived difficulty of the writing task . The only way to truly quantify this claim is to provide real-life documentation as an example. The current writing task I am engaged in? A ten page research paper written in APA format-- a style I have little experience with-- for my 16 credit program. This research paper assignment was explained to me at the beginning of April, allowing me adequate time to complete it. However, most of that time was frittered away with a variety of time management decisions, excuses, an existential crisis, self doubt, and general anticipation of its apparent difficulty. This essay just so happens to be one of the procrastination efforts, as I sit in the library, reclined comfortably next to a perfect-people-watching-perch, no longer possessing much will to write further than the six pages I have achieved.

A detailed list of my previous and current procrastination efforts may shed some light on my writing process. First and foremost, solitaire. You may or may not be familiar with this game, as it comes standard with most time-wasting-game-suites on popular computer operating systems. Whenever I feel the urge to start writing, I will open a word document, stare at the whiteness of the page, read an abstract from one of my research articles, and then open an obligatory game of solitaire. If I fail at the first game, resulting in an impassable stall in the game, I will direct my cursor to the 'Deal' button, and restart. Generally the second game is a success, but only if the king of hearts is the last to be placed before the win-signalling cacophony of pixelated playing cards is displayed. If I fail to follow this course of action, I will play another game. Should I fail three consecutive deals, I will exit the game and continue writing.

A related procrastination effort is sudoku, with a similar three failure termination limit. Though these techniques are effective in avoiding the writing task, sometimes it is necessary to leave any environment where work might be possible to achieve ideal procrastination. The best means of doing so that I have found is to either ride my bike somewhere extraneously distant from my work, or to purchase-- or brew-- and consume copious amounts of ginger ale. When possessing the adequate willpower to remain in an environment ideal for working, I have had to devise a myriad of more creative ways to procrastinate.

Environments such as my apartment are ideal for cooking, music playing, comic drawing, napping, massage giving, throwing objects with little to no warning, finding creative ways to use a sleeping bag as a fort, the reading of unrelated materials, and conversation. In contrast, the library lends a whole new array of distractions, including book spine brushing, poetry book reading with the employment of olfactory senses, arranging my body in amusing ways in the chair, people watching, gaining a complete understanding of the avian flyaway system installed on the window through extensive research and observation, and sparking conversations with people who I either know or who seem particularly engrossed in their studies.

Important time must also be expended toward internal rambling. Topics vary in this activity, and possess essentially no limitations in regards to subject matter. Some recurring topics include birds, the ability to absorb the information of entire books simply by looking at the spine, other people's shoes and their implications, new recipes, interesting ways of re-lacing my tennis shoes, staring at my hands and wondering about what it would be like to live without thumbs, devising interesting questions for the library info-desk employees, and the meaning of life.

Another important element in my writing process is music selection. I have painstakingly organized my iTunes library for ideal visual appearance, making absolutely sure to provide the appropriate album cover for each album, and the appropriate images to miscellaneous compositions. I find it best to choose music on a whim, however, once a preferential whim has been acted upon, the musical selections that follow tend to stay within the same genre or sentimental association. Sometimes my musical needs will change mid-album. In cases like this, I am forced to stop working and choose another album or artist. This process of musical selection becomes infinitely more complicated when I feel the urge to listen to something that is not in my iTunes library.

Once all of the vital elements of distraction and preparation have been completed, the writing process can really begin. The perfect environment is achieved, I am focused, and all of the necessary materials are within close reach. Then begins the self-editing process, during which I sit, staring perplexed at the screen or paper, shuffling my internal thesaurus to find the perfect words. Upon sentence completion, a read-through review is carried out, during which I decide whether or not my word selection is suited to my intent. Often it is not, and further backspacing and revision occurs.

When the piece reaches its initial completion, it is proofread, further revised, and then submitted to a trusted party for review. These parties include my mum (who will tell me that it is great, provide a few spelling and grammatical corrections, and then, if the piece is more than 5 pages, claim that she has to cook dinner), my dad (who will read the piece thoroughly, interject with his own notions, and suggest editing the entire piece to suit aforementioned notions-- this request is denied without fail), or a friend (who will just tell me it is great and say nothing more, though this is not always true, often times their commentary is very insightful and much appreciated). I will then determine that the only way to get something done is to do it myself, and revise the piece. If a more viable option is available in the way of a reader, such as one of the aforementioned friends who are willing to risk hurting my feelings, I will turn to them for another revision. Upon completion of this, I will once again read the piece, consider their commentary and complete the writing process.

1 comment: