I have a theory. Writing, as you’ve probably noticed, entails feeling. And when we avoid writing, when we procrastinate by reorganizing the fridge or (more likely) scrolling through Facebook, it’s because we’re afraid to feel. We’re afraid because we worry that accessing our emotions will make us lose control, will loosen our grip on all of the things we’re barely managing as it is: our careers, our relationships, perhaps even our diets or our substance use or our sanity.Read More
Fun fact: only 8% of people stick to their new year’s resolutions.
I suppose these are also the people who clear their email inboxes every day, load dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher, and walk past bowls of peanut M&Ms with nary a second glance.
Meanwhile, the rest of us let unfinished business and milk-spotted cereal bowls pile up. We hate the M&Ms for existing, for tempting us with their bright colors and empty calories. And if we succumb, we hardly taste the candy over the self-recrimination in our heads.
All of this would be fine, if only we didn’t judge ourselves so harshly for it.
If you’re reading this, perhaps one of your new year’s resolutions is to write. Or perhaps you want to write so badly that you’re afraid to turn it into a resolution, because God knows you’ve been burned before.Read More
If you procrastinate on your creative ideas or impulses, this post is for you.
Do you believe in alternate universes?
I do, sometimes. There are so many quirks in our lives, so many tiny flakes of coincidence that build and build into a great avalanche of The Way Things Are. But what if one or two flakes had gone missing, or blown south instead of southwest?
A universe where my ex and I went through with the wedding. A universe where my dad visited the doctor a year earlier for his colonoscopy. A universe where I died from a ruptured appendix at age 23. These are all easy enough to picture, and I think about them all the time.
Sometimes, though, my imagination loses itself in truly elaborate what ifs. What if my ex and I had moved into that cute little place with the turret and the comically sloped ceilings, rather than the spacious, sprawling apartment where we ended up? Would the tiny apartment have kept us closer somehow? And if we’d stayed together, would I have been happier last year? Would I have finished my novel by now? Would I have stayed at my job?
Maybe I shouldn’t, but I enjoy spending a fraction of my life in alternate universes. If things go my way, I’m grateful not to live in the universe where that car didn’t brake in time. If things go poorly, I take comfort that—somewhere, in some other dimension—my dad is drinking his second mug of coffee and watching This Old House.
I can tell you one thing, though: there is sure as hell a universe where I’m not writing.Read More
If you ever procrastinate, experience anxiety, or slip into negativity because you get lost in thought, this post is for you.
I cried during acupuncture today.
“Mind if I stick some needles in your stomach?” the acupuncturist asked at the beginning of my treatment, and of course I said yes, because when do I say no to anyone?
But as I sat alone, trying to enjoy the soothing music, trying to regain the peace and tranquility I felt during my first session last week, my thoughts took over. And my thoughts weren’t pretty: punctured organs, internal bleeding, infection.
I lifted the blanket and studied the steel needles. At the base of each needle, my skin puckered into a divot, which couldn’t be normal, could it? I nearly fished my phone out of my purse and googled how to tell if your liver is punctured.
It sounds funny, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t. I called out for the acupuncturist.Read More
So much writing advice—so much life advice, for that matter—tells us to let go of outcomes. Check out Elizabeth Gilbert's wonderful TED talk, or Anne Lamott's brilliant piece on "Shitty First Drafts," or Cheryl Strayed's account of reaching a point “where the prospect of not writing a book was more awful than the one of writing a book that sucked.”
Just show up and do the work, the advice goes. Don’t fret over whether it’s any good.
Much as I love this line of reasoning, it doesn’t work for me. Not caring about the outcome? Oh, friends. That ship sailed ages ago.Read More