Three weeks ago, I sat in the beautiful, cavernous Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Here is where I would write my last game story for The Michigan Daily — one of over 200 in the past four years. And it sucked. I was writing an acerbic column about the football abomination that the Michigan football team displayed in the Peach Bowl, and the words weren’t coming to me. Had I learned nothing in college from this newspaper? I labored through cyclical writer’s blocks, thesaurus reading, and getting a comprehensible idea down on the page. When it was done, my editor said he loved it. But I still thought it sucked.
I can truly say that I don’t have trouble starting the writing process. Sure, I can experience the typical struggles every writer goes through, but at the end of the day I’m a punctual, detailed writer. I had never needed a routine: no specific location, drink of choice, or anything to get me moving. It just happens, and that thought process has given me a lot of comfort to get things done.
Despite the relative ease for me to put words down, my column writing experience from a few weeks ago is my norm. Even though the writing occurs, the process can be strenuous with little validation. And when I finish my work, I hardly feel overcome with joy or satisfaction. I call it being results-oriented, but even then I only submit work that feels good enough to me. This unfortunate realization sparked by this class has created a need for personal change. With a few added rituals, I hope to inspire confidence in my ability to rituals and become more process-oriented with my work. Hopefully then writing becomes a wholly delightful experience. Some rituals that I didn’t think I needed, but hope to implement include:
First, leave my house. I often get consumed by the convenience of my home: a bed, a bathroom, a TV, snacks, and friends are right there, so it’s where I work. But all of these factors ultimately distract from focusing on the writing process. With more frequent, smaller windows to type sentences, writing becomes more laborious. With a clearer, quieter mind, which can be found in a more remote work space, I can write within a stream of consciousness and examine my writing more completely.
Second, celebrate after a finished assignment. Nothing too fancy, but something to look forward to beyond closing computer tabs and my laptop like seeing a movie or buying a nice meal.
Yes, they are baby steps. But I think it’s a good start and I am open to any suggestions that others have to reward themselves for their writing.