Behind the Curtain: My Writing Process

Every year I promise myself I won't get in this mess like I did last year.

Every year there's 2 weeks left of the term and I reach maximum stress levels, send frantic (and unnecessary) emails to profs, consume triple the amount of coffee, and have restless nights peppered with disturbing dreams where my computer has lost all my files or the paper is not actually about narrative complexity but consumption of social media in China and I have 35 hours to research and rewrite.

Every year.

Here is a glimpse into how my days look in these final moments of the term.

5:45 - Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

5:50 - Open eyes in a panic that I will sleep through the snooze alarm. Get up. Turn off alarm.

5:52 - Shower. Sometimes quietly sing a Christmas tune (as not to wake sleeping roommates), but more often not. Spend time groggily and exhaustedly think about what I have to do today.

6:10 - Get dressed. Usually wear some variation of novelty tshirt, cardigan, and scarf.

6:13 - Do makeup. Sometimes watch whatever British TV show has been uploaded to YouTube overnight while doing this. Debate 45 seconds too long over which eyeliner, if any, I will wear today.

6:25 - Dry and straighten hair. Completely forget about not wanting to wake-up roommates. Sing.

6:35 - Eat breakfast at a rapid pace and pack lunch at warp speed, for fear of missing the bus. Spend entire time brooding over the impending day staring at computer screen.

6:55 - Brush teeth, apply lip balm, bemoan the state of hair, bundle myself up in winter gear and leave house. Spend 2 minutes searching for bus pass and keys once outside the house. They are always in the left-hand pocket of jacket.

7:04 - Arrive at bus stop. If it's not so cold that eyes have glazed over, spend time studying fellow commuters and imagining their life stories. Text friends/check Twitter (if it is warm enough to remove mittens).

7:11 - Bus arrives, late as usual. Spend the next 34 minutes fluctuating between enjoying the "free time" I have to enjoy reading for pleasure and criticizing fellow commuters for not understanding how to be efficient. If there are strollers on the bus, roll eyes.

7:42 - Board O-Train to Carleton. Dodge Metro paper pushers.

7:52 - Arrive at Carleton. Walk to River Building, debating whether or not to get a coffee. Always decide to get a coffee, but no breakfast sandwich.

8:10 - Occupy desk in TA room, coffee and breakfast sandwich in hand. Empty pockets, set up computer, shuffle papers and books around as though I have some sort of plan. I do not.

8:15 - Open Word document with paper and notes; promptly minimize. Open Google Chrome. Begin morning check-list: check email, check Google Reader, check Facebook, check Tumblr, check Twitter, check Instagram, check Facebook, check email. Decide to keep Facebook tab open, but minimized.

8:50 - Realize that I haven't begun work yet. Check phone. Respond to texts for a while.

9:07 - Begin writing. Re-read what I wrote yesterday. Change some of it. Debate over the subject-verb agreement of one sentence for several minutes. Check Facebook. Check phone.

9:34 - Greet classmates as they join the writing party. Chat about our evenings. Check phone. Share funny story that I just saw on Twitter. Show each other good holiday-themed YouTube videos. Laugh. Discuss favourite music of the season. Play some for each other.

10:03 - Both comment on how we need to get work done. Silence, except for the occasional sound of clicking keys.

10:46 - Suggest coffee break. Get coffee.

10:52 - Decide to say hello to Colleen, school administrator. Have a chat about family and the holidays and grant applications.

11:14 - Return to desk, determined to write another page before 12:30.

11:15 - Check Facebook. (Another engagement photo shoot)

11:27 - Really get down to writing. I am on FIRE! Words are flowing freely from my brain to my fingers! I MIGHT GET MY TO-DO LIST DONE TODAY!!

11:50 - Ask friend: "Does this sentence make sense?" Read aloud to them. Discuss ways to improve entire paragraph, and then the entire essay.

12:04 - Return to writing, disheartened.

12:36 - Have not reached writing goal. Eat lunch anyway. Check Google Reader, check Facebook, check Tumblr, check Twitter. Check phone, respond to people I have been ignoring.

1:23 - Check notes against essay. Realize that what I thought the article was saying isn't what it's saying at all. Almost cry. Google it. Find out I was right in the beginning. Eat a chocolate to reward myself for making it through that emotional roller coaster without sobbing uncontrollably and questioning my entire life path.

2:15 - Take a well-deserved YouTube break. Re-watch TV show I watched this morning. Become interested in the recommended videos. Go on extended, unplanned YouTube binge, while repeatedly telling myself "this is the last one!"

3:00 - Coffee break!

3:10 - Back in action. Stare at what I've written. Scroll up and down. Notice error in Works Cited; change it. Start bolding/highlighting sentences I am unsure of.

3:22 - Check Facebook. Check Tumblr. Check email.

3:30 - Respond to student emails. Send longer emails then necessary. Check phone. Check Instagram. Wonder if there's anything interesting I can Instagram from this location.

3:55 - Begin writing. Get into a groove. Make substantial changes to paragraphs, move things around, write a page. Tell people to "hold on! hold on! hold on!" when they ask me a question, because "I've just got to finish this thought."

4:32 - Chat to fellow students. Ask when they are going home. Ask how much they've gotten done today. Compare it against my work. Feel accomplished/not accomplished, accordingly.

4:46 - Write another few sentences. Decide to go home for supper.

5:06 - Get on the O-Train. Begin long journey home. Read The Hobbit on the bus and decide that it is Instagram-worthy. Feel really connected to Bilbo Baggins.

5:52 - Arrive home. Settle bags on the floor. Open fridge and find leftovers. While they re-heat, promise myself I will get another 3 pages written tonight.

6:30 - Supper is eaten. Decide to finish the episode of Sons of Anarchy on Netflix before getting down to work.

6:43 - Resume writing. Check Facebook/Google Reader/Twitter/email/phone with more vigor than earlier in the day.

7:56 - Sign out of all social media, hide phone from view, promise to get serious, now. Write.

8:24 - Decide to call parents/friends. Have longer chat than expected.

9:05 - Clean up kitchen/sort recycling. Decide to do laundry. Contemplate painting nails.

9:45 - Stare at Word document. Feel completely exhausted. Start thinking about how much I didn't finish today. Feel overwhelmed with how much there is left to do.

10:10 - Admit defeat for the day. Sorrowfully move everything I have left for today onto tomorrow's agenda. Promise that tomorrow will be more productive.

10:25 - Get ready for bed. Forget to brush teeth because I StumbledUpon a cool music maker.

10:38 - Brush teeth.

10:40 - Decide to write blog post, because it's important to do things for myself in these busy times.

11:32 - Look at clock and realize that I have to be up in 6 hours, and I haven't yet watched my daily beauty vlogs.

12:00 - Finally close computer and take off glasses. Swear that tomorrow you will not go to bed so late.

Repeat until December 17th.

Number of books read in 2012: 25
Current TV series: Sherlock series 2
Current nail colour: OPI's "Tomorrow Never Dies"


Anonymous said…
This is hilarious! You are more like your mother than you care to admit. :). This sounds like many of my days, except that I procrastinate doing my housework! Now get back to writing and stop checking Facebook. Tut, tut, tut....

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