Lockdown has highlighted my three most unsavoury traits – hoarding, procrastinating and overthinking. But have I stopped doing the things that drive my nearest and dearest mad?
Unsavoury Trait One: Hoarding.
I can’t help myself. So, what sort of things do I hoard? Anything with sentimental value will do. Photographs, for a start. Thank goodness digital is here to stay.
Theatre programmes, theatre/concert tickets, perhaps more understandable than hanging on to first drafts. Why do I keep them? They are so cringe-worthy; I can’t bear to read them.
Clothes that I haven’t got a hope in Hell of ever getting into again, like that old military-style black velvet jacket, I thought I looked the bee’s knees in when I was in my late teens. It still smells of White Musk Oil, which I insisted on wearing back in the day, which gives me a headache now. It also has a cigarette burn in it. It’s been there for years, and I have no idea how it got there. But, there are signs of improvement here. During Lockdown, I have binned many things, except for the velvet jacket.
Unsavoury Trait Two: Procrastinating. Slipping into the Lockdown mindset has made it easy to hone my procrastination skills. Oh, I don’t need to mow the lawn, cut the hedge, or powerwash today. I’ll do it tomorrow, or the next day. Maybe not anytime soon. So have I improved? Not really. After a flurry of ‘de-procrastinating’, clearing out the garage and blitzing my office to the point where I can no longer find anything, sorting out the attic is still on the back boiler.
Unsavoury Trait Three: Overthinking. I have precious few qualifications, but if I could have done an overthinking degree, I would have excelled. I’ve been overthinking everything, ever since I remember. What if I was I was right in the first place? Perhaps I shouldn’t change it. Oh, I’m not sure. All that sleep deprivation over so many years, as my overactive brain went round in circles.
Overthinking is a lack of confidence thing, and I can’t believe I am the only writer who overthinks everything. Let’s face it; writing is a succession of highs and lows.
The Highs. I was cock-a-hoop when I started writing Just Say It! It was a relief to get the story out of my head and on to my hard drive. Who needs to plot? I thought. My pantser-style of writing was on a roll, and writing the first draft was fun and fuelled by wine.
The Lows. I intended to tell the story in flashback, but I got into such a muddle – I would have done without the wine – and had to rewrite it several times.
I’ve calmed down a bit, having morphed into a plotter 😇, but I’m still overthinking everything. I’ve had more Chapter Ones than I’ve had glasses of wine, having started Just Say It! at many different stages of my MC’s life. Even now, I’m still not sure. So, I’m overthinking it and, maybe, I should have stuck with my initial gut feeling about where to start, which was, unashamedly, fuelled by wine.
When I start drinking wine, my mind goes into creative overdrive. I adhered to the Ernest Hemmingway quote, ‘write drunk, edit sober‘ until I found out he didn’t say it at all. He was an advocate of sobriety when it came to the writing process.
I am not suggesting for one moment that getting pickled is key to writing your equivalent of For Whom the Bell Tolls, but, sometimes a glass or two of wine does spark a little creative genius. But, as dawn is my muse these days, I challenge myself to write a 1000 words from daybreak, for however long it takes, fuelled by coffee alone.
Lockdown has been a time for reflection. It’s brought nostalgia to fore in shedloads. After a slow start, stunned by the speed with which this pandemic swept across the country, I started writing new things, challenging myself to get better.
Lockdown has also highlighted the things that are important in life, and they are not material things. I’ve been a hoarding procrastinator for much too long, but hopefully, it’s not too late to make permanent changes. Says who? Little old wine drinking 🍷, overthinking me.