Habits worth breaking or NAH

So we’ve all realized how we’ve improved in our writing. But in that process, at least for me, there were some writing habits I became painfully aware of and I’m not sure whether I should be critical of them or embrace them. I’d like to address these on a couple of different levels:

1.) I ALWAYS want to incorporate music/lyrics in my writing or just straight up write about music. I’ve realized that for as much as I love to write about it, I don’t actually play instruments frequently enough. Sometimes I fear that yes, I’m faking it all. But the interest is there, I swear. It pops up in every piece of writing I actually value. Do you think that such recurring topics are ultimately a hindrance to exploration of other topics or further writing development? What’s up with being eternally caught up on one subject? Do you tend to incorporate a certain topic in much of your writing?

2.) I’ve realized that the quality of my writing depends on way too many external variables. How am I feeling today? Do I feel creative? Am I comfortable? Do I like the scenery? Can I work with background noise? What song should I play on repeat for the next five hours? And by the time I figure all of it out, an hour has gone by. Do any of you experience this? What’s your favorite writing environment/scenario/song? How much emphasis do you think should be put on creating the perfect writing environment?

And if you’re interested, here’s my current writing playlist (aka the biggest determinant of my writing environment) :

“Another Night,” Real McCoy

“If I Fell,” The Beatles

“Mr. Blue Sky,” ELO

“Tim I wish you were born a girl,” Of Montreal

Hillary Crawford

Let's start with the basics- I am a third year honors political science major here at the university, with a minor in Writing (obviously, right?) and Global Media Studies (have to fit in those film classes). Until this summer, I was basically clueless as to what I wanted to pursue. "Grown-ups" always asked what I wanted to do with a political science degree. Simultaneously, fellow students around me declared they had finally found their destined direction in life. Well, all of these comments just made me wish that I had a set goal, that I knew what I wanted to do in the foreseeable future. But I didn't. After I came to terms with the beauty of keeping my options open while continuing to learn about a broad spectrum of topics, my lightbulb finally went off. Oh, the irony. Long story short, I think I want to be a journalist. But like everything in life, this is always subject to change.

4 thoughts to “Habits worth breaking or NAH”

  1. Hi, Hillary.

    I really appreciate this blog post, especially Part 2.

    As far as Part 1 goes, I personally think it’s healthy to write about your natural attractions. While I also believe it’s healthy to challenge yourself occasionally with new topics or to throw yourself outside of your comfort zone, I wouldn’t neglect your sincere inclinations for fear of hindering the development of your writing. Your passions will guide you towards the type of writer you’re meant to become and ignoring them would deny not only yourself, but all of us, the opportunity to learn something valuable.

    As far as Part 2 goes, I totally get it. Really, I do. That’s my everyday situation. I’m so picky about my work environment and if I ever want to get something done, I have to limit my distractions. Lately this has meant working on desktop computers. For some reason, this practice really works for me. I have a Mac laptop, but I love PC desktops because the keyboards make soothing *plunks* and feel so comforting under my finger pads. I think my brain knows that desktops mean business. I don’t ever browse blogs on desktops, get lost on imgur, or fall down the YouTube spiral. I somehow manage to be really productive. I don’t know, it might work for you too.

    Thanks for the discussion. I’ll look into those song recommendations!

    -Olivia

  2. First of all, I really appreciate both the ELO and Beatles reference! I was genuinely hurt during the Grammy’s when my friends had never heard of them, and they stared at me in disbelief as I sang every word by heart. Also, it still shocks me when a lot of my friends only know a few Beatles songs- you know “I wanna hold your hand” “Help” “Hey Jude”, and then have no idea about other good songs like “if I fell” or “Eleanor Rigby”. So, I thank you for restoring my faith in this generation’s taste in good music.

    Second, your point about being distracted before you write- I’m so there. Writing my honors thesis has been an eye-opener to just how bad my procrastination can get. Everyday those ‘external variables’ build up more and more until one of those variables has literally become “I’ve waited too long to start, and now I’m too afraid to open my computer”. One thing I have found that helps this is what I call blah blah writing. I just open a word document and start writing something similar to journal entry. It doesn’t have to be grammatically correct or anything good- just start writing. This makes the ease into writing for a class or a requirement a lot smoother and a lot less daunting. Hope that works for you!

  3. I totally understand what you’re saying in #2, especially around your emotions/how you are feeling. I know that sometimes I feel down or whatever and I want to write some really dramatic ish, especially poetry. Literally any time I’m feeling down I’ll write a few lines of poetry before I go to sleep and think I’m Robert Frost, like so deep. It helps me fall asleep, but then I read what I wrote the next morning and I laugh to myself…

  4. I love this post. I used to create monthly playlist and stay up nights downloading new music that would cultivate my creative environment. Now college has taken away my free time, but I definitely have to have the perfect environment for good writing, including how I am feeling. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this habbit, it makes for the best work.

    I too have a tendency to want to include song lyrics in my writing, because I love to draw the connections between my experiences and my favorite songs. I think it just depends on the type of writing you’re doing, your audience and if it’s relevant. If you keep feeling the desire to write about music, do it! Even if it’s just side work. I think if you continually feel drawn to a topic, you’re not done with it.

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