Writing Memoir

Confession: I have bad writing habits.

What? But you seem so disciplined, Lani. You’re always writing these lovely posts on how writing has elevated your life – and we all know that you are working on another book. Exactly. My goal of getting it done, came and went like all those other empty goals.

I went through a phase of reading nothing, but writing books. I was sort of addicted to them, but mostly I wanted to know how to be a better writer. Lisa Henderson wrote about all the writing rules you should ignore which I could greatly relate to because I don’t feel like I belong to the club. You know what I mean?

Following nothing, but writers’ blogs (and I mean they strictly write about writing and their work) is a bit tiring for me. I think I’ve reached a point where I’m well-saturated over writing advice, dos and don’ts and how to be a marketing maven. Now, this is not to say that I don’t appreciate writing blogs or read them, I just could never be them.

Actually, I could never just write about one thing which is why writing books takes a long time for me. I want to throw everything in, and that includes the kitchen sink because when I start writing, something else comes to mind and then I’m off…on a tangent. But that’s not my problem right now. NOW, I don’t want to write because I don’t feel like I have anything interesting to say. Yes, it’s bullshit. I know it’s bullshit, but the bullshit is strong these days.

Anyway, I read a very limited amount of writer’s blogs, and when I’m in the mood I’ll read more. Generally though, its information overload and knowing all the things I should and shouldn’t be doing just makes me want to eat a bar of chocolate and binge watch funny YouTube videos, or sweep the floors. How do these writers do it??? Aren’t they annoyed by their Evernotes, OCD goals and word count calendars?

I wrote 334 words, I deserve a break now, right?

It’s kind of exasperating, really. All these writers talking about how much they’ve written today or yesterday or how they wrote a whole book last month when I could barely squeak out a blog post. Now I know how fat people feel when they watch me eat a pizza and wash it down with pistachio ice cream. Well, I tell you how this skinny bitch does it. I have a lot of energy that I use exclusively to avoid writing.

procrasination gif

When I first saw this cartoon I laughed (because it’s funny) then I cried (because it’s not funny). It was like having your drinking problem pointed out to you when you didn’t realize you had a drinking problem. I mean, you knew you had a problem, but no one had given it a label, and now that you had that name to your problem, you recognized you had a choice.

And for me that choice, because I’m the cleaner, is to have a clean house OR get some writing done. No. Cleaning the house will almost always win. Why not clean a little, Lani and then write and then you can go back to your cleaning. What? That would be like ironing a shirt and then unplugging the iron to do something else and then returning to the ironing. No.

Then I stumbled upon this video which did not help me – AT ALL. It just confirmed that I’m a genius.

Of course, I could argue, with the little help of the ‘ol TED talk video, that what I’m doing is perfectly fine, that there is nothing wrong with my writing habits. You know, writing when I feel like it. Egats! Dear god, are you mad, woman?

But I can’t help but wonder if I should, you know, change. After all, I could be better, I should be better. If I had more discipline, I’d write way more than I do now.

Sigh.

I wonder if I should do a load of laundry…

Which procrasinator are you? You do procrasinate, right?

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70 thoughts on “Confession: I have bad writing habits.

  1. This is me. And with age, it’s even worse. I recently changed my life, left my old career, and now I’m trying to figure out how to start a book, or even a blog. Then I get overwhelmed, maybe try even a little and I shut down. Other things seem more interesting. Hence another 5 months rolls by. I’ve attempted to solve this by just reading memoirs. And, I see how I want to write or how each person’s message comes out so different. I find by reading your blog, I can sense your personality and who you are. I also get the same vibe from Elizabeth Gilbert. I enjoy these posts. Also, I’ve read many of the Cambodian memoirs and would love to visit or teach there. Keep writing. I enjoy your entries!!!! ps…. I wonder if there is a level of depression that comes with the profession of writing. Just by the process of it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha! I think creative types go through a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions, highs and lows with the process of creating. And I’m willing to wager that most are hard on themselves, too.

      I think I’m trying to be gentler on myself. I used to feel really bad and guilty about not writing and now I feel like I must balance relax and a sense of urgency – or nothing will get done!

      Actually, I do write everyday. Just for myself though, with my journal. Maybe you can try this? It’s easier when you don’t have the pressure of ‘someone is going to read this’. And sometimes, sometimes! good ideas reveal themselves. But, truly, journalling is just for me.

      I get distracted, too. Especially online. I admire folks who use those fancy aps to get their work done, limit time on the Internet, etc.

      Thanks so much for your kind words. Appreciate it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so like you, Lani. Maybe we are long lost sisters or something 😛 Like you, I don’t follow that many writing blogs. In fact, I probably follow less than five, and the other blogs I follow are about travel, photos and lifestyle blogs. My writing is my writing and first and foremost I want to write what I want without other people telling me what to do – there is always the editing phase of book writing when I can *probably* be more open-minded and accommodate other opinions (maybe even read similar texts on the subject after getting bored of hearing my own thoughts for so long) knowing that I have put myself, me, and my unique thoughts out in the first.

    My first book is coming along very slow that I have stopped writing it for a few reasons. One of them being I…like to do other things and from the image I’d say I’m The Cleaner and List Maker. Cleaner because I am OCD about being clean and organised and hate clutter, and the list maker because I like to visualise my goals. And then I suppose I am a bit of The Sidetracker too – you have to experience life to write stories, isn’t that a great excuse to not write 😀 On a good night when I actually write part of my book, I usually never write more than 500 words :O

    I suppose if we keep procrastinating something like writing and art, I we can actually live without doing it. Perhaps the thought of saving what we love doing to do later gives us something to look forward to and get by, and in a sense makes putting it off easier.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. To be honest, I’m hoping that by confessing this, that my writing habits change for the better 😛

      Memoir is a little tricky in that we do need some LIFE experience to write about and generally it follows along a timeline. (Although there are young memoir writers!) I feel better when I just write and don’t judge what I’m doing, but I’m trying to get over thinking that what I have to say is not that interesting. Do you know what I mean?

      It’s like, I’m not vain or into myself, but by writing about my experience, I know others will relate, but I seem to forget this.

      Used to be a List Maker, but ugh, can’t be bothered except when I’m planning a trip 😛 500 words is okay! I was once told (by a psychic), write, and even if you just write one word make it a good one!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ” I’m trying to get over thinking that what I have to say is NOT that interesting” A very interesting train of thought. Sort of like write without expectations, dream without expectation. You know, I don’t think my life is all that interesting at all but maybe someone will get a laugh or a lesson out of it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, I think so. I think this relating to someone else’s experience happens so much more than we, the writer, realizes.

        Like

    2. “My writing is my writing and first and foremost I want to write what I want without other people telling me what to do” –> Exactly why and how I write my blog. I try to keep it informative ’cause I loooove information, at the same time, you can see I’m not really focused on just writing/blogging stuff. There are other interests in there. I personally call it my hobby blog, ’cause the contents are stuff that interests me.

      Also, it’s the reason why I can’t put up a blog that would have people paying me. It takes the fun out of writing for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Write as you want and you’ll feel comfortable, and when you feel comfortable more often than not your ideas will come together more easily. That is, you see and more importantly feel your story with much more clarity.

        Good on you for blogging what you like and being honest in your writing. You’re such a strong writer.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. I feel like I lost my good writing habits of years ago, can’t keep up the pace anymore

        Like

  3. I’m totally jealous that you clean your house while procrastinating. At least you come out of it with a clean house. I come away with nothing other than lots of time wasted on Facebook and listening to podcasts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You know why you clean? Because it feels like you can achieve something and finish something. I have the habit of getting into cleaning too when I “want” to procrastinate. I know what I’m doing, but I do it because I need that feeling of achievement. Sometimes it’s what I need to kick my own arse into gear.

    I’m a bit of a list maker. I know that *can* help me, but perhaps I’m not doing it right!

    It’s funny, while I blog, I don’t think of myself as a writer. However in the last couple of months I’ve actually started writing more for work. But then some of those are paid gigs, or they’ll help me elevate my profile, so … there’s a carrot there nudging me along to write.

    Still trying to find that carrot that’ll get me blogging again. My mind’s awhirl with all sorts and I can’t pin anything down. BRB gonna go make a list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahha. List makers!

      I suppose you are right. Cleaning gets me going, forces me to move and feel like I’m getting something ‘important’ done. And like you, I know when I’m avoiding writing. What I should do is just write first thing, but I don’t feel awake enough to do that. Plus, I can’t imagine just getting up to sit down. Not my style.

      Ah, well, don’t force blogging. Enjoy the break!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I remember reading something about pattern/routine forming. It’s what our brains need to get shit done. Along those lines. It doesn’t work for everyone. But just a routine of having a coffee, eating breakfast, spending x amount of time on something, then doing something else. Sounds hella boring. But it’s one of those productivity tips that helped me a little bit. I had a morning routine that was pretty similar to this, but while I ate breakfast I read a book, then jumped on the computer to handle the morning emails… THEN got into work.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I think the hardest part about writing is the delayed gratification. Whether it’s a book or a screenplay, it’s years of effort, just for that first (and probably bad) manuscript. Then it’s years before you get paid, if you ever do. And you probably don’t, not for your first pieces, because they are learning pieces and you’ll come back years later and go “wow, well, that was awful thank God no one published it.”

    But unless you are some kind of wunderkind, or lucky, or connected, or all three, it’s just really, really hard to keep slogging away without validation.

    It’s why I like baking — instant reward for hard work! (Also tastes good.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And then that bad manuscript will become very valuable when you’re already famous that people will even bid to get your bad writing, he he. (sorry, butting in) The sad part it, many artists who become really famous only become really famous when they’re gone and unable to reap the fruits of their labor.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It is! It depressed me a bit when I heard somebody say that, I think it was teacher. It depressed me because I realized he’s right.

        The advantage of the modern times, though, is there are so many ways we can practice our art now and people appreciate (Thanks, Internet, you’re not really evil). Some are not even artists but just attention-getters who mostly don’t last that long (ATTN.: YouTube peeps), though there are also many who do have the skills/talents.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Our new place has a working oven. I can’t wait to break it in!

      Yes, thank you for laying out the delayed and depressing process 😛 I think this is why I like blogging. Much more instant noodles…I can see why so many blogs become books.

      Hopefully all this practice is useful!

      Like

  6. I tend to procrasinate a lot…in fact when it comes to writing my little book I kind of pushed it away for the past few years! 🙂
    However when I do get started (like back in the day…) I could write 8-12k words a day, however rereading the mess was not the best spent time of my life. What else I always delay? Such as eating more healthy, sure I have a couple of good days and then I fall back to my old habbit and tell myself that tomorrow I shall start again with a healthy life. This might take more than just a “tomorrow”, last time it took me 1 month 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny because I don’t procrasinate with work, but with personal goals I do. Part of what you are describing though is about forming habits, which can be tricky to kick start. I have good habits, mostly, and I can self-motivate, but lately, sooo lately, I’ve been having a hard time just working on the book! GAH!

      Like

  7. This was interesting. I don’t even ever try to write anything serious anymore …. just my blog….. which I can barely keep up with 😕. … a few letters from time to time. It was interesting hearing your voice while following along! I’m really good with voices so it was cool to hear your voice. Sometimes I don’t even recognize a person until they start speaking and then it comes to me. I’m also really good on the phone recognizing a voice. Anyway I digress. Hang in there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. As I confessed, I’m really hoping this will break the curse 😛 and I’ll get seriously going. Distractions are a plenty these days. Damn Internet!

      Anyway, I’m glad you followed along with the recording. It’s nice to be read to, don’t you think? Okay, this weekend will be another fresh start! *groan*

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m the snacker. As soon as I have trouble finishing a sentence or starting a new one, I look around for something to eat. (Hmm. What can I eat that will satisfy this hunger I’ve just recognized and make me feel happy and smart without making me fat?) Sometimes I do the social sharing thing, sometimes I get lost and sidetracked doing internet research.

    I’ve read lots of writing books. I don’t like the ones that write as though there’s only one way to write a novel. I follow writers’ blogs like yours, but I seldom look at the ones that give writing lessons. I’ve read some marketing blogs, but their advice doesn’t sink in. I need words printed on paper so I can underline and apply the lessons one at a time–sort of the way I follow a recipe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmm. You bring up a good point. I used to be an active reader, underlining, circling, making notes in the margins of books. But these days, I rarely get my hands of print copies that aren’t borrowed, so it’s the ‘ol notebook for me. I rather miss those days. I would also enjoy looking back at my notes and what I underlned, too.

      I generally snack when I read. Such a bad habit that I formed during my teens. I can’t shake it now. I love to read and eat. Yum. Yum. Yum.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I buy most of my novels on Kindle these days to save money. But something like marketing doesn’t stick in my head. There are so many little facts about how to do it. I can’t soak up and implement more than one thing at a time.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Were you taking about me? You were! You were talking about me, weren’t you??????

    Don’t worry. I believe there are more like us out there, more than they let on. Lots of FB users pretend they are always having the grandest times of their lives. Lots of authority writers also do 😉

    Meanwhile, it’s good that it’s Friday ’cause you’ve been my first choice for weeks and reading this only solidified my choice 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahhahaa. Thanks. You’ve been wriiting a lot these days it seems – I can’t keep up. You go from zero to 100. Is this normal for you? 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. HAHA HAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Best question I’ve gotten yet!!!!! The answer, really, is simple: I’ve got time and resources lately. When I don’t, that’s when I feel so…incomplete 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Haha! I am The Internet Research, Sidetracker, and List Maker. Basically, I get productive with the wrong things to take my mind off That One Thing That Must Be Done.

    Honestly, Lani, I think procrastination is our fear in disguise. It could be something else, but for me at least it’s my fear barging in. It makes me feel that if I don’t get something done/fail, then I suck. But I know that if I do get it done/succeed, then I won’t know what to do wit myself – should I keep going, should I aim higher? I’m still afraid of potential greatness, which is silly, but when you’re conditioned to be mediocre and to believe that mediocrity is good and safe and keeps you alive, well… it’s hard to aim higher and push harder.

    ANYWAY, I think you’ll be fine. As long as you’re kind to yourself and keep doing what you love (which is writing, yay!) then I’m sure you will keep doing well. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks 🙂 I just spent the morning writing an encouraging note to myself in color and putting it on the wall. That’s a new start, right?

      Yeah, it really is feeling like I don’t have anything to say, but I know that is not true. I’m not sure beyond that. Maybe it is fear of getting it done!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I have three novels on my jump drive, and a few short stories on my blog. I do write regularly on my blog, for my work as a Jewish minister (rabbi). Otherwise, I spend a lot of time grading papers for the job that takes up most of my time– college English instructor. My issue is finding original things to say, and I am always rifling new books, looking for subject matter. My particular area– soft Jewish horror, based in Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) seems to have few outlets. They say, “write what you know,” and that, besides memoir-type stuff, is what I know. I am a strong beginner, but then taper off. It gets frustrating, but my Bible-related work, bibliodrama, is amassing to a large extent, and I am hopeful of publishing that at some time, despite giving it away for free– again, on my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right. Giving it away for free is a controversial topic, but I think when you blog it’s a way to build community and test the waters

      As far as writing what you know, I think that myth has been debunked. Write what you are interested in, what excites you, right? Your soft Jewish horror sounds really fascinating. I’ve never heard of it. I love hearing about new genres.

      Have a trusted friend look at your short stories or novels. That’s a lot of work you’ve got hiding on the computer! Thanks for stopping by.

      Like

  12. Oh, and I gave up Facebook, completely. Cold turkey. It was sapping my intellect and creativity, and I was going on it constantly. Now, unfortunately, I’m beginning to substitute google+, but there really isn’t as much verbosity there. Thank the writing gods.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot of social medias are time wasters, for sure. For better or worse, FB is one of those that I need to keep around b/c I live overseas. It’s become a 3rd inbox, really. But FB isn’t actually that bad for me. I think this is because I don’t find it very nourshing or stimulating. It’s mostly baby pics and funny videos.

      Yeah, google+ is a head scratcher. I used to be into it, but there doesn’t seem to be much going on. Communities are good though. I’ve been dipping back into it. But I should be writing, right!

      Like

  13. Haha, I identified so much with what you said about cleaning the house! I am always facing the awful conundrum of: Should I create something awesome called “art” that has the potential to survive for posterity or should I clean the poor neglected house so I will not have to live in abject squalor? The second argument usually wins out but I the whole time I resent that I was torn away from my “calling” by dust bunnies on the carpet.

    I also understand about not reading blogs about writing even though I do blog about writing a lot. I can’t seem to help myself. Usually it’s to debunk a lot of B.S. I see online, terrible writing advice masquerading as common sense, “rules” I once accepted but that confused or hurt me — even though like you I rarely visit blogs on writing.

    Thanks so much for mentioning my article! I’m so glad you liked it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think at this point, you are the only blogger who writes on writing that I follow. Somehow all the writers on writing blogs just started to drive me high and to the right. And honestly, how many writing blogs can you read before you decide you should be WRITING instead of reading about writing. 0.o

      p.s. don’t let the dust bunnies win.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I think I’m the internet researcher kind of procrastinator. When I am not 200% busy at work my mind starts wandering and I think: I’m not so busy, I have time to first check some blogs/facebook/the newspaper.

    Sometimes I find it hard to write for my blog because I don’t have any good idea. But I just force myself to publish something at least once a week, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d say you are pretty good about posting consistently. Yeah, I’ve become more comfortable with lazying about Internet researching instead of writing 😛 But honesly, sometimes I get inspired by what I read! 😀

      Like

  15. I listened to your post today! I love it, I am impressed, not only do you write more often than me, you record it to! Props!… I go through waves of wanting to write that are extremely short lived in comparison to the desire to run away from it. I attribute it to too much work and not enough fun in life. When I am relaxed and happy its much easier to write, I feel like that may not happen again until Z goes to college, or we start traveling again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmm. I understand. I think that sometimes we need to simply live life and inspiration will find us. That is to say, we need to have experiences to draw from considering that we write about our expat lives.

      Otherwise, I feel like we are forcing it (?) if that is the right word. I mean, for blogging, I think there needs to be a nice mix of materials and topics. People get bored if you edit your life too cleanly and it’s not honest.

      I’m sure I’ll see you again on the blog-o-sphere. You live in Thailand, after all. Bound to be something happening soon 😛

      Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I am ALL of the procrastinators (except the Delegator, I have no one to delegate to), on ALL things, ALL the time. I am perpetually that photo of you at the top of the blog. It’s horrible, but procrastination is the one thing I excel at. I often wonder how I even get up in the morning.

    I think a great deal many people are procrastinators, and they have spurts of inspiration and productivity bracketed by gullies of lethargy and gratuitous TV binge-watching. They just don’t tell you that when you ask how their latest project is going. They pretend they are what you envision them to be, and what you project as a goal for yourself. It must be all a giant fraud, right? There’s no way they can be that productive!

    Well, even if they are that amazing, I think that it’s OK to be less than amazing 100% of the time, and if you need a break to watch funny cat videos or to annihilate all germs within a 1 km radius of your house, that’s OK too. As long as you know you have good ideas, at some point you will put down the toothbrush and leave the grout be long enough to write something amazing! Good luck with your writing ^^

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I haven’t picked up the ‘ol toothbrush to get the gunk out of the grout yet, saving that for some serious procrasinating 😛

      Sometimes though, life gets in the way of writing and doing what needs to get done. And I’m okay with that. I decided to stop fighting it and feeling bad that I wasn’t up to an imagined or perceived level of what I thought I should be. I think my love of writing has to be first, not something that I slog through. You know?

      But I must say, I have never met such a professional procrasinator such as you. Wow. All of them, eh? 😛 Keep up the good work?

      Like

      1. I pride myself on my ability to procrastinate through anything. I still have procrastination-related nightmares about my Master’s thesis.

        I think it’s good to be able to step back and accept that what you can accomplish is the best you need to be doing. I’m sure your productivity has increased, and you probably enjoy writing much more! Great perspective!

        Liked by 2 people

  17. Thanks for putting the comic on there. I’m mostly the List Maker, but also the Watcher and the Gamer. My to-do lists are signs that I will fail, because I revise them and change them in my planner all the time, especially the blocks of writing time and the story I’m working on during that day (my habit keeps the correction tape industry in the black, I believe). I’m trying to just write down the 5 things I have to do that day (2 have to be writing related at minimum) on a post-it note. When I get those done, then okay, other stuff to follow. Bad habits here, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked it. Yeah, I used to make lists, and I’m not sure when exactly I stopped. I think it stopped working for me.

      I feel like cultivating good habits (re: writing) comes with a lot of trial and error, which is really lame because I just want stuff to work! 😛

      Liked by 1 person

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