where the writers are
I heart The Guardian’s book section
Carrie Bradshaw, writing in her underdrawers the way all GOOD writers do!

Honestly, everything that is wrong with North American media is right over in the UK. Just look at The Guardian’s book section, for example. Lots of great writing, lots of great writers, lots of stories about writers writing—these are all my favourite subjects, which rarely ever receive coverage in the U.S. and Canada (and since the Gazette’s book section just basically got axed, likely never will).

Today I’m reading an article by Jean Hannah Edelstein, entitled “Routine inquiries: what goes into a writing ‘process’?” and finding myself laughing at the author’s attempts to discover a writing “process” that works for her. I seriously identify with her quest to elevate the concept of “sitting before a keyboard and pounding your head against it until the blood flows” (or however the phrase goes) to something a bit more sound bite-friendly. As she says, nobody really wants to know that you get up and spend the day writing in your PJs.

In your underwear, maybe. Carrie Bradshaw has shown us that much. @@

Anyway, I did like Edelstein’s idea near the end of the piece, suggesting the “fake commute,” which basically involves getting up and dressed as if you are going to the office, then creating a “commute” of a few blocks around your neighbourhood before simply returning home and getting started with your day. It sounds like a good way to force yourself to do a couple of important things, including getting dressed and presentable even if you’re not going to an actual office, taking a bit of exercise, and possibly even jump-starting your work by having some time to think or listen to some music while you’re on your way to work.

These are things the average commuter takes for granted as ways to pass the minutes (or hours) of boredom spent on public transportation, yet they’re totally valuable moments, and often they’re the way most of us complete the bulk of our reading or quiet contemplation of our days. As writers, we may think we have more time for this sort of thing, but we likely just waste lots of time with internet-related distractions (Twitter, Facebook, Blip.fm—I’m looking at you!), scrambling for story ideas, and otherwise procrastinating. Doesn’t it make more sense to get out of the house for a fake commute at least once a day, recapturing the valuable parts of the commuting process?

I know there will always be days when it’s just so much easier to roll out of bed at 9 and start “working” (i.e. checking your email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, news) in your pajamas, but I think it’s worth a shot. And it’s a good way to work in that daily constitutional I meant to get started on, so I might as well pencil it in.

What about other writers lurking out there? Do you have a “process,” or any tricks of the trade you’d care to share? Do you fake commute or take a break in the afternoon?

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rewards and limits

I am easily distracted in the internet. Sometimes I make rules. No email checking until after I do blahblah blah. Then emailing becomes a reward for a job well done. Like self-manipulation. An egg timer is a neat-o tool too. Ten minutes of research (aimless surfing), twenty minutes writing, ten minutes cleaning the bathroom, ten minute break (coffee and smoking). In addition, if you like smoking or -ahem- jose cuervo, don't indulge until you have done something productive. You'll sleep much better at night if you have accomplished a GOAL...

-Miko is Michelle