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punctuating the writing day.

November 14, 2010

listening to candi staton’s young hearts run free. obviously. i like it a lot more than kym mazelle’s version.

it’s days like these that make me want to jump out of my window. (i only live on the second floor. i’d just land in a pile of wet, garbage-strewn grass. nothing dramatic, but at least i would get some fresh air. but get rained on in the process. hrmmm.)

the title of my post is a pun. get it? ha ha.

okay. so i’ve been basically locking myself in my apartment and trying to write more than 1000 words a day for my thesis. and so that led to me thinking about things i do to break up the writing day. some people like to give themselves rewards – a cupcake, an outing to the aquarium, etc. – but the things i do don’t really fall under rewards. anyway. this post is going to just be me talking about myself, but you get an embarrassing fact about me at the end of it so there you go.

things i do to break up the writing day:

YOGA. barf i’m turning into one of those crazy vancouverites who talks about yoga at every party they go to, and doesn’t go out on specific nights because they need to wake up for yoga the next morning. i practice bikram yoga about 3 times a week, four if i’m very lucky. bikram yoga is the only yoga that works for me because it is the only yoga that snaps a whip at my brain as well as my body. i live very much inside my head when i write, and so if i’m feeling particularly insane, i go to class in order to get my endorphins pumping and to calm my brain.

bikram yoga is different from other yoga in a few ways. it’s in a brightly lit room and you have to stare at yourself in a mirror for an hour and a half so it’s incredibly honest. and the room is heated to 40.5 degrees celsius with 40% humidity. so you want to die. it’s by far the hardest workout i’ve ever done, and i used to skate 7 days a week for hockey/ringette. but the main way that bikram is different is that there is an instructor who is talking AT you for 90 minutes. you have no choice but to let go of your muddled, insane, word-filled brain and instead let the dialogue of the microphone-equipped teacher fill your mind instead. i like that. it’s like a dominant forcing you to assume a position. i’m being ordered around and all of the poses are so energy-taxing that i can’t think of anything else. i can’t plan my next piece of plot. i can’t think about my characters. i am forced out of my own head. that is pretty rare, so i take advantage of it when i can. also my butt is looking hella fine from all of the leg poses we do. plus side. i haven’t had thighs like this since those hockey days.

TEA. for when i’m falling asleep on the keyboard and need to get up and walk around. orange pekoe for the day – over-steeped, over-sweetened, with milk. blueberry or ginger for the night. much better alternative to alcohol. but i do drink while writing sometimes, which is a whole other blog post, as i’ve often had those discussions with my writing cohorts (“do you ever try to write a scene while drunk? do you find it works?”).

THE LIBRARY! is amazing. right now i am reading lorca’s in search of duende, but i have a whole list of things i am going to mine the depths for. i go slowly, taking out 1 or 2 books at a time. UBC’s koerner library is nuts because i discovered that there is a crap-ton of books down in the basement that are in those retractable stacks – they are movable. the stacks are on runners, and if you turn a wheel the whole stacks move sideways. you have to check and make sure that there is nobody in the spaces between the racks, otherwise you would crush them. this really excited me.

i find that reading either inspires me to write something new, or rejuvenates my brains cells in that it forces me to look at something from a new angle. also, if i am writing about a specific topic, i try to find as many books on that topic as possible. that is how i found david wojnarowicz, or the diaries of vaslav nijinsky (which are his actual diaries from when he was descending into madness. amazing. actually, my friend krissy found that for me! i had only had a tattered copy of his biography at that point). anyway, i often find that reading new things inspires the blocked mind. it can also distract the blocked mind, so that is a risk you run. sometimes when i’m writing i don’t read anything at all. other times i read anything i can get my hands on. you really have to divine what kind of writing you are doing and if you are capable of reading during it.

HANDSTANDS. no joke. and headstands, but i’m a little warier of those. headstands and handstands are a staple of yoga – not the yoga i do, but yoga in general – but i have serious problems with doing them and i have been doing yoga for about 4 years. there is something about being upended that i do not like. and i often wonder how this connects to my fear and if this can be translated into writing. why can’t i do them? what is it about having my legs in the air (yikes. that sounded… off) that freaks me out? i find that physicality often connects to writing. maybe it’s the yoga talking, but often the energy in our body is blocked in specific areas. we notice it most in physical manifestations – headaches, stomachaches, throat aches – but it also connects to us emotionally. so therefore whenever i can’t do something – a pose – i wonder about how that pose connects to my emotional life. i am not quite fearless yet. i’ll let you know when i finally do that headstand. because this is my goal:

isn't this a really beautiful manifestation of the human body?

COOKING. i really like cooking. this surprises people, because they don’t see me do it often. hello. i live alone and i cook for one person – myself. it’s sad sometimes to cook your brains out and have a thousand dishes and then be the only one sitting down to dinner. but my creuset is my new best friend, and i like cooking because it’s almost like math – it’s like a counter stretch for the brain after doing a lot of creative stuff. you just have to follow the recipe and that’s that. it’s good for forcing yourself to get out of the apartment, too, because often i don’t have the ingredients.

and finally:

disco music. i’m not even kidding, you effers. and yes, i realise that i am going to be teased mercilessly for this, probably by my brother the most, but i’m a huge huge huge huge closet disco fan, and if i could learn the hustle to dance along to van mccoy i would be the happiest girl in the world. (some of the dancing in that video is great. seriously.) i can’t really explain this one in writing terms, in order to connect it with the writing theme of this blog. i just really effin love disco music. a few of my favourites include the andrea true connection’s more more more, silver convention’s fly robin fly and the gibson brothers’ que sera mi vida. there. that’s fodder for the next time you want to make fun of me.

ugh. i feel like this blog post is just boring as eff and it’s just me talking about myself. but mainly i wrote it because i am curious of how other people break up their writing day. so let me know what the H you do because i’m always in need of ways to get out of the apartment.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jocelyn Plane permalink
    November 15, 2010 8:06 am

    Hi Anna,

    I bet you didn’t know that I read these…but now that I’ve let the cat out of the bag, I feel obligated to reply to your post 🙂

    I can definitely relate to your experience with writing a thesis because I am just starting to write mine!! (Finally!) I break up my day in many ways…I can get pretty creative depending on how much I want to avoid my thesis work.

    Sometimes I play with Jade and Zoe – that’s my favourite pastime. Even going so far as ordering 60 toy mice from ebay and unleashing them all at once on the floor! Other times, I also drink tea (and too much coffee). I live right by a Sleepless Goat-esque place that sells really good food too, so I sometimes go there for some yummy olive bread, soup or crepes.

    I also like to go for rides on my bike too…but now its getting a bit too cold for that! 😦 The fall colours were so pretty in Ottawa this year, so that was nice.

    Other than that…I sit on my computer and let my frustration and nerves get to me too much and wonder why I put myself through more school…That might sound crazy but I feel like we all have that feeling at some point!!

    Love you ANNA!!!!!! Hope to see you soon!


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