Ten Things That Don’t Look Like Writing But Are

 We’ve all seen the memes–Jim Carrey typing madly at the computer, looking possessed. The cat, paws flying, putting in that order for never-ending catnip. The old-style author, with the pipe and the whiskey and the old S-electric typewriter. Even the odd Shakespeare or Byron, with fingers stained with oak gall ink from the carved quill nub.

When people envision a writer at work, they envision some sort of industry. After all, writers are constantly whining about how hard it all is–shouldn’t it at least look like we’re working?

There’s a word in this trade… fairly important… *snaps arthritic sausage fingers* What is it? Oh yeah.


Ironically enough, some of the most productive moments writers have happen when it looks like they’re doing something completely different. Here are ten things that it looks like I’m doing when I am, in fact, writing.

#10–Wandering around the house, talking to myself. My husband used to ask if I was yelling at him–or the kids–in my  mind when he saw me having an obviously intense conversation with someone who wasn’t in front of me. “Nope,” I’d say. “I’m writing.” He was usually very relieved.

#9–Doing the laundry. A. It’s so boring it feels like I should be doing something else productive while I’m doing it, and B. See Item #10. Wandering around the house with a laundry basket is a perfect opportunity in which to talk to one’s self. True fax. 

#8–Doing the dishes. Yes, you may be sensing a theme here about housework. Before I make my list more than ten items I may as well add vacuuming, sweeping, and cooking to the list. But not organizing–organizing actually uses brain power for me, and I can’t organize my house to clean it if I’m trying to have multiple conversations simultaneously in my head. Which is probably why my house is an epic disaster zone. 

#7–Walking the dogs. Yes, much of the time I’m listening to an audiobook or music, but there are times when I shut all that off because my brain is too busy. The fun thing about this one is that even though it’s basically the same thing as wandering around and talking to myself, it doesn’t look like it because there are dogs. Because there are dogs, it looks like exercise. Win/win.

#6–Taking a shower. I mean, we’ve all washed that shit before, right? And this way nobody can see that you’re actually engaged in #10. It’s like a little cubicle with relaxing warm water and good smells, all designed to send you to other planets where you can have intense conversations with the people in your head.

#5–Applying hand cream. Extra points if it’s some sort of liniment for arthritic sausage fingers, because then it looks like self care, when it’s really a chance to sit at my desk and talk to myself–although usually a fill-in-the-gap measure, for little sentences to get you to the next big exciting part.

#4–Cleaning the desk. Seriously–have you seen my house? Why would my desk be even close to clean if there wasn’t some sort of underlying writing need behind all of that organization and dusting. Also, it helps to get the cat dander out from between the keyboard letters so it’s not so hard to push down on them with my arthritic sausage fingers.

#3–Staring into space. This is really just wandering around the house talking to myself but sitting flat on my ass with my mouth closed.

#2–Getting a snack. Write write write! Pause, stare into space, put on some hand cream… transitional phrase! Now on to the next part but first… I need cheesy-poofs. Get up, get cheesy-poofs, and by the time I’m back, with a little detour to refresh my fizzy water and ice, I have the next exciting part ready to type out. See? It only looks like cheesy-poofs and no willpower, but in reality it’s actually part of a much grander scheme.

#1–Napping. Or resting my eyes. Or, you know, staring into space with my eyes closed while imaginary people have conversations in my head about what they’re going to do next in my book. You know. Writing but without the keyboard.

Yeah–I only wish I looked like the Jim Carrey gif when I was writing. Looking at this list, there is absolutely nothing to distinguish me from the everyday sort of chubby lunatic in a hoarder house full of yarn… except the book at the end.

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