Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Writing Human's Rain Delay

Nothing much to speak of for a writing update beyond starting short story number three of my trilogy over the long Labor Day weekend, as everything else is still unchanged from last Wednesday. So for your enjoyment and amusement and potential ammunition to mock me with, I present to you, my somewhat secretive (to everyone else) pre-wrting routines.

My pre-writing routine may never become as well known as former Cleveland Indian Mike Hargrove, who earned the sobriquet "Human Rain Delay" (if you Google the phrase, the first five entries, including Wikipedia and YouTube, refer to him) during his playing career, but more often than not, it has become just as OCD as any other annoying routine that I had the displeasure of doing for years before finally getting rid of it.

I have developed two very annoying routines that I perform prior to doing any kind of writing, and that includes blogging. Before I write out a single word on paper, or type out a single word on the computer, these pre-writing routines must be performed. Otherwise, I can't get into the proper frame of mind for writing.

If I'm writing something on the computer, be it a blog post or a story, after getting the computer started and what now (I use my laptop in two hour increments and turn it off when I'm not using it), I play a game of spider solitaire. If I win, I move on to the next step. If I don't, I keep on playing until I win. For those of you think that this sounds stupid because it's a game that is easy to win at, it isn't. I play the game with a severe handicap, so naturally it lends itself more to losing than winning. The longest losing streak that I had while playing this game, was 49 consecutive games, which naturally cut into my writing time.

The next step, should I win a game, is to log into Facebook. Once I get done checking that, I then check Blogger; my Gmail; my Hotmail; my Yahoo twice; FoxNews; ESPN; and my local newspaper website, in that order.

Then I write, either my blog post (with various research links if need be) or my story (again doing research if need be). Sometimes I'll write original stuff and sometimes I'll dictate my scribbles via the Dragon.

There are times though that I've been able to break that routine by simply cracking down and staying offline. But it doesn't last for long because I really need to have at least one thing from the CyberWorld going at the same time that I'm writing. Doesn't matter what it is, so long as I have it going, I'm writing.

For when I decide to write outdoors, that's when it gets positively infantile.

Example: I want to work on a short story.

1} Grab my folder of paper, my clipboard, the printed pages of what I written so far, a rubber fingertip and my hat.
2} Go outside to my writing area, get myself situated in my chair, take out a pen, clipboard, short story and start studying where I had left off at.
3} Ten seconds later, decide to get a snack. Get snack, eat, then repeat step #2.
4} Ten seconds later, decide to get a drink. Get drink, drink, then repeat step #2.
5} Ten seconds later, decide to move my chair to the other side of the tree so that the sun isn't beating down. Move chair to the other side, gather up my stuff and transport it to the other side of the tree. Repeat step #2.
6} Ten seconds later, decide to blow my nose. Get either tissue from the house or napkin from the car, blow my nose, then repeat step #2.
7} Ten seconds later, screw around with my phone. Fix phone, then repeat step #2.
8) Two minutes later, while repeating step #2 for the fifth time, allow the gentle mountain breeze to lull me to sleep. Nap for about an hour. Wake up from nap, repeat step #2.

Keep in mind that I have yet to write a single word down in the preceding hour and a half of being outside.

9} Eventually I come to my senses, get angry with myself for wasting all of this time doing all kinds of pointless shit, and start to write. Which usually lasts anywhere from a half hour to an hour plus, and I wind up with a minimum of three handwritten pages of text.

I have another writing area, which is my front porch, and except for steps #5 & #8, everything else applies.

This is my tiny little screwed up writing world. It's long term, it's deeply ingrained, and there is no hope for a cure for me. If you don't want to see anyone else suffer from the same kind of malady, for god's sake, stop them before they can get started on the road to ruination. Don't let anyone, including yourself, come up with such an annoying pre-writing routine as mine. Please let this be a warning to others that OCD is positively lethal when you're a writer.


  1. That's funny, G. Lots of things to go through before writing. Me - I just like to make sure coffee is brewing while I am figuring out my blog post for the day. And I wonder if Mike Hargrove's motivation is to just be annoying and catch the pitcher off-guard or something?

  2. Mike Hargrove is from Perryton, Texas. About 80 miles north of me here in the Texas Panhandle. We Texas are of a "we'll be ready when we are ready" mindset.

  3. Lynn: There a few other things that I go through that I didn't bother writing about, but I wanted to give everyone a good sample of what I go through before I actually write.

    I think for the most part, baseball players are a superstitious bunch. So its pretty much a prerequisite that you come up with a silly routine that helps you concentrate before doing your thing.

    Travis: I think that mindset has been firmly transplanted to the younger generation. My kids are horrible proscratinators when it comes to being somewhere and doing something in a timely manner.

  4. LOL... I'd never heard of Mike Hargrove, but I'm quite familiar with the pre-batting rituals of many baseball players. (Especially Derek Jeter... ;))

  5. Lisa: I briefly saw a Derk Jeter clip in the suggested viewing list when I had found this one.

    But yeah, any kind of ritual that becomes time consuming can be considered funny if you're watching it. Not if you're a victim of it. :D

  6. I wonder - I'm pretty OCD in most of my life but not at all with writing. I write when the mood strikes and that seems to work well.

  7. R: I used to have a lot of mindless routines while growing up, and there were times when they would really look like they would take over my life.

    Fortunately, it never got to the point of no return, but they're still with me to a certain degree.

    The pre-writing ones just happen to be the worst of the lot.

  8. I'm disappointed with my own performance over the labor day weekend. I didn't get nearly as much done as I'd hoped I would

  9. It is uncanny how we share so many similar traits. I too want to eat,drink, fb, twitter and what not when am getting in the *mood* to write. I am off work these days so start with reading/writing blogs, then either breakfastor lunch depending on the time :)

    I like how you write...following you now.

  10. Charles: Same here. When all was said and done, for the entire weekend I wound up with about a half page of written material. I did leave off in a good spot though, just wish I had gotten further before I stopped.

    Chintan: Thanks for stopping by and returning the favor.

    I think that my pre-writing routine is actually worse in the summer than it is in fall and winter. In the fall, I still sit outside, but because the weather has taken a turn towards the cold, I actually make a concentrated effort to write.

    And blog reading/commenting is part of my overall routine as well. :D

  11. I can relate to your tale of woe. I have some OCD in me. It mostly comes out with checking things like is the stove off and is the door locked etc. When I'm more stressed it's worse. I try not to let it make me late for things, like leaving the house for work. Right now it's under control, but sometimes it gets kind of sketchy.

  12. Ha ha, your list of 8 things cracked me up! We call that faffing around here in the UK. :D

  13. S: I think that we all have a little bit of OCD in us.

    One of my more permanent OCD thingys is being overly punctual.

    I was raised in a family where being on time was a dirty phrase, so when I became an adult, being punctual to events, etc. was first and foremost at the top of my list. I continuely drive everyone insane on this, especially since my brother and his wife aren't.

  14. Joe: Glad I could give you a chuckle today.

    It's actually quite longer than 8, but I wanted to give everyone a basic idea of how I waste the time that I plan for writing.


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