The Writing Experiment

writing experimentI planned to get a lot of reading done yesterday. Instead I caught up on Top Chef and Doctor Who and then watched House Hunters because it was on. Oh well. A day off is okay. I’m back on track today and will start my series of life experiments with The Writing Experiment. But first, some thinking that got me there.

Job Titles

My task list contains too much drudgery. Of course some tasks are drudgery. That’s life. But I am giving them too much weight. For example, I was not going to allow myself to blog until I’d done some housework. So neither happened. Seems reasonable. (Not at all!)

There’s something to be said for having a carrot for doing cart-pulling tasks, but in this case, I’m not doing something that fits under the job description of WRITER, which is what I’m supposed to be before I’m a maid or a cook. Everyone either needs to clean and cook, pay someone else to do it, or live in filth and starve, so those titles will describe those responsibilities for me.

When people have out-of-the-house jobs, cooking and cleaning come after that. Going to work is the priority. Yet I’m telling my boss (me) I can’t work until I fold that load of laundry or get dinner started or both (and a few other things). Seriously. Messed up.

The Wisdom Of Why

The answer is in the whyAnd I can answer that easily–I don’t believe my job title of writer. I believe it’s a hobby. I’ve paid lip service (or the written equivalent) to my job as writer, but when it comes to action and results? No.

I’ll go one why further. Why don’t I consider myself a writer? I believe I’m mediocre, destined for failure, wasting my time. I could go on. I’m very good at insulting myself and making sure I don’t think I’m good enough. Which I’ve done and won’t rehash.

Believing I’m a failure before I begin is why I don’t set aside writing time every day. It’s why writing is not a priority. It’s why folding socks and underwear takes precedence over writing. The mean, pessimistic, belittling side of myself sees me as maid, cook, parent, wife, daughter, friend, pet parent, and all other things before writer. Those other things are useful and worthy. Writing is like binge-ing Netflix or playing video games or watching episode after episode of House Hunters.

So what am I going to do about this?

The devil on my shoulder hasn’t driven the idea of being a writer completely out of me. That’s my starting point. I still want to be a writer. So for my first documented experiment, I will act like a writer, make it my job (part-time to start), and see what happens. Time to see if I really am a writer.

Here’s how I’ll go about it (rough outline):

  • Make a Schedule

    • Days of the week
    • Hours in the day
    • What the focus will be during those times (writing, editing, learning)
  • Find Accountability

    • Need a boss who is not me and not someone who will not only excuse bad behavior but make excuses for me. (Yes, you!)
    • Explore online options like stickk.com.
    • Ask for volunteers who will enact the specified consequences.
    • Post on social media.
    • Use rewards for reaching certain goals.
    • Have penalties for failure, like giving way things I love, like books, especially writing books.
  • Enact the Schedule

    • Make a checklist for starting work
      • Turn off social media and block distracting websites
      • Gather supplies
      • Take the dog out
      • Go to the bathroom
      • Read through previous writing
    • Plan writing goals
      • Words per day
      • Number of stories/poems/articles complete
      • Novel
    • Report hours
  • Timeline/Project Planning

    • What and when
    • Number of submissions
    • Agent research
    • Publication research
    • Education
    • Agent shopping

This actually turned into something! I like to believe it’s because I’m finally serious. Next step: get this experiment started. Okay, maybe I need to sand off the edges of this plan before I get it started, but isn’t that starting (and a good way to procrastinate)? So yes, The Writing Experiment started!

Minimalism Game – Day 7 (a tough day; I was feeling lazy):

  • pair of socks
  • 3 pairs of shoes
  • a sweater (never worn)
  • my favorite hoodie that has holes worn through it and is finally beyond repair
  • a dog toy our doofy dog doesn’t know how to play with

From my readings:

Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach

…you already possess all you need to be genuinely happy.

Zen In The Art Of Writing by Ray Bradbury

…if you are going to step on a live mine, make it your own. Be blown up, as it were, by your own delights and despairs.

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