Comparison is the Thief of Joy

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Theodore Roosevelt is credited with saying “comparison is the thief of joy“. I think this is true.

Why?

Comparison . . .

  • Fosters unrealistic expectations and perfectionism
  • Fosters competition (the unhealthy kind, not the having-fun-wrestling-on-the-floor-with-a-litter-of-puppies kind)
  • Fosters envy and jealousy **
  • Keeps us small and spiteful

I think the worst thing about comparison is that we– most of us, anyway– are trained to do it to ourselves. No one needs to tell me I suck compared to the writer who lives just up the road from me.*** I am busy telling myself that. *sigh*

**¬†I’m not being redundant here. “Envy” is the emotion we experience when we covet the possessions of another. “Jealousy” is the emotion we experience when we think a relationship we value is threatened. I notice that people tend to use the words interchangeably. IMO, they should not. ūüėČ

*** Steven Galloway, who wrote the beautiful Cellist of Sarajevo and many other things

 

Writing and Time of Day

Photo Credit  Used under a CC license
Photo Credit    Used under a CC license

Does time of day matter to writers?

I think it does. I think it matters more than most of us are willing to admit.

What time of the day is the best time of day for you to write? Why?

Without question the best time for me to write is when I first wake up. Taking care of writing first means it’s unlikely to get de-railed by other people, projects, or my own internal conflicts. Any time I’ve been successful in working steadily toward a goal, it’s because I put first things first.

This is my perfect morning:

  • Get up at 6 am
  • Work out for half an hour-ish
  • After workout, set up coffee to brew while I shower
  • 7 am Write and drink coffee for 2 hours
  • 9 am Eat breakfast
  • 9:15 back to writing until 10:30

But here is what my typical morning looks like:

  • Alarm goes off at 6 am. I ignore it so that I can ruminate on whatever fresh hell the day will bring with it.
  • Actually get out of bed at 6:40. Get ready for work and leave house by 6:55
  • Arrive at work at 7:45 ¬†Make coffee and avoid cheerful co-workers if I can.
  • 8 am- start work
  • 10 am- eat breakfast on my coffee break

Obviously I’m going to need to make some changes in my world to get the writing schedule I want. It is a work in progress.

What time of day do you actually write? Is it the same as your ideal time? 

I write from 2 or 2:30 pm until suppertime. ¬†Unfortunately with little consistency. It’s nowhere near ideal.¬†The worst time for me to do anything at all is the middle of the afternoon. The low-blood sugar + “I need a nap” doldrums start to plague me. Facebook and other dumb things call out for my attention. The dentist calls. Some distractions have been removed, but I am working on removing more.

Honestly, sometimes I think people will just have to start locking me in a small windowless bathroom with my notebook, some pens, and a laptop without Internet access.

Or I have to find a way to get up every day at 4 am.

Two More Ways to Shut Down Writer’s Block

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Trees Overshadowing the Moon via photopin (license)“>Photo Credit Used under a CC licence

I haven’t tried these, but people tell me they work:

1. Write yourself a permission slip. Give yourself permission to be awful. “Dear World, Please excuse Chloe for being a talentless hack. She can’t help it. Don’t judge. She’s doing the best she can. Love, Chloe”

2. Visualize, then banish your inner critic. Get a good mental image of your inner critical voice. It might resemble one of the monsters from¬†Where the Wild Things Are, or your alcoholic uncle, or your eighth grade English teacher (Oh, by the way, fuck you, Mrs. Valensky). Once you can clearly see the critic in your mind’s eye, banish them!* I would imagine flipping Mrs. Valensky a quarter and telling her to go see a movie.

* In accordance with emerging contemporary practice, I’m using “them” as a gender-neutral pronoun. Suck it, old school grammarians.

Let the wild rumpus start!

Three Ways to Shut Down Writer’s Block Now

Photo Credit Used under a CC licence
Photo Credit Used under a CC licence

I link and ¬†post a lot about writer’s block. That’s ’cause it is a frequent visitor. ¬†*sigh* Here are three things that I do to shut down writer’s block:

1. Have a shower (a cold one in summer, a hot one in winter, or whatever floats your boat). If you change what you do with your body, you change what you get with your mind.

2. Go for a walk. This is the same principle, plus it works off some of the adrenalin amped up by the anxious writer’s block thoughts.

3. Change formats. If you are writing longhand in a notebook, go type on the laptop. If you are sitting at the computer banging your head on the keys, find some paper and a pen.