Saturday, April 21, 2012

Constantly Growing, Constantly Learning

I finished! Woo! I just finished my first large scale, professional editing project. I've done a bunch of little stuff up to this point but this is the first time I've finished editing an entire book.

Of course, no project is without obstacles and this one seemed to be plagued with them. Between a hardware failure that basically took out my primary computer, an illness that should have been spent in the hospital and a new computer that kept showing the Blue Screen of Death, it just seemed like I couldn't catch a break. Add to that a distinct lack of focus and I learned a lot about how I worked.

I have no problem focusing in short sprints. November, for me, was full of short sprints. This last project had a couple 12-14 hour days where I was doing nothing but editing. That's not a sprint, that's a marathon.

I used to be great at writing marathons. I did them in college all the time. I couldn't figure out this time why I was having so much trouble focusing on the project at hand.

I spent a couple hours thinking about it after I'd turned in the manuscript because it was really bothering me. I came to a very startling conclusion that made me very happy I'd made some changes several years ago.

As people, we can train ourselves to do certain things. One of the reasons I write with music is to get myself into the mood of the piece. If I put on a type of music, it brings to mind a specific type of writing and I can get into it a lot faster. I found that I did this with food, too.

I kept craving sugar as I was editing. Not terribly surprising, since I'd stopped really eating most sugars as part of my health journey, I'd had sugar cravings occasionally. I could usually get past them and move on to something else . . . until I started the editing marathons. The sugar cravings would absolutely wreck my concentration and I couldn't figure out why. I didn't really eat a lot of chocolate while I was writing and I could usually get past a block by getting up and moving around.

It finally occurred to me that the last time I was doing a sustained amount of writing or editing, I had been on the verge of a drinking problem.

I'd sit down with my laptop and a cup of Bailey's on ice and I'd write. If I had a big project coming up, I'd chill the Bailey's in the freezer, pop in a straw and just suck on it for hours while I wrote. I turned in papers that I'd written more than a little drunk and gotten some of the best grades in the class. It wasn't until I was working another job and going out with some of my coworkers that I realized the amount of drinking I was doing was not terribly healthy and I stopped.

Unfortunately, by that time I'd programmed myself to write with a drink in my hand and didn't take the time to reprogram. That has turned out to be a problem that I'm going to have to work on.

Honestly, I'm not sure how to go about doing that. I've started by keeping a full glass of ice water on my desk at all times so I'll have something to drink when I get the urge. The sugar addiction, though, is going to be harder to break. Of course, the first step is recognizing that there is a problem and the second is understanding what the problem actually is. Now, I have to go and do some research.

Happy writing!


  1. Yeah, I remember those drunk papers...the ones that always ended up getting high grades. I am glad you realized that this wasn't the way to get things done. I know you can be amazing without the alcohol. You can do anything :) And I'll be there to cheer you on!

    1. I realized it a while ago but I forgot one of the main pieces of advice for kicking addiction, which is to replace the bad behavior with a good one.