Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mashed potatoes and dessert

Thank you everyone for your kind words and support. They are very much appreciated and mean a lot to me. The dissertation process and writing, in general, can be a lonely place. This is why I started going to SnB. To get out and be sociable. Now I have some of the bestest friends of my life.

Just wanted to report that I have made progress with the writing. I have produced 5 pages in the last two days. For boot camp we are using this book by Joan Bolker.

Of course this book has been collecting dust on my shelf for years. I have even read most of it. However, this time I have been more attentive in my reading. I am going to attribute this to my new open and curious approach, rather than my usual digging in and resisting approach.

One of the methods I am trying is the many pages method. For this method you select the number of pages you are going to write in a day. This is supposed to promote fast writing. Of course, last time I read the book I picked 5 pages a day. Then I freaked out about writing 5 pages a day and never wrote a one. This time I have chosen to write 2 to 3 pages a day and follow some of the other guidelines outlined in the book.

1. Write first.
2. Make a mess.
This means ignore spelling, sentence structure, and organization. Make notes to self about the process. Don't hunt for words. List3 or 4 alternatives/choices/senses. Just keep the flow of writing.
3. Rewards
Use positive reinforcement

I have been getting up in the morning and writing first thing. Turning on XM Cafe (Starbuck's radio without the caffeine and crowds) and getting to it. I am usually done by 11-ish. I have been making a big mess. It is freeing to ignore spelling and to write crappy, convoluted sentences.

For a reward I have been going to yoga. Bolker calls this the Grandma's Mashed Potato Law meaning you can't have dessert until you have finished eating your mashed potatoes. This law means you can reinforce a desired behavior, like writing, by pairing it with another behavior that you love and will do for its own sake. So you are supposed to find something that you can’t live without and then not allow yourself to do it until you have accomplished your writing goal for the day. I love mashed potatoes and dessert. These two things are my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. So I am embracing the mashed potatoes (writing) and the dessert (yoga). Yoga practice is great for reminding me to breathe, be in the moment, listen to my body, and to stay curious and playful. These are all things I am trying to apply to my paper too. Mashed potatoes and dessert is awesome!

The first writing challenge will come this weekend as I am traveling with the hubby to see Cookie & Kiss! The hubs has not met the babies yet. My strategy is to take advantage of being captive on plane flights for my usual2 -3 pages and giving myself a one page goal for Saturday and Sunday. I have to admit that I am scared to death to have other people reading my pages next Tuesday but it's too late now I am committed to the process.


Annika said...

I wonder if this method would apply to novel-writing. And if my dessert was actual dessert, how much weight would I gain?

Ellen Bloom said...

Sounds like this is an excellent method for anything you'd like to accomplish. Example: Clean out one kitchen drawer, clothes drawer, closet, etc. a week; knit at least 5 rows on each WIP a week; do a little garden work each day, etc.
Thanks for the impetus.
My reward: Yarn, of course.

ladylinoleum said...

You'll get it done. I've got faith in you!