Jess Nickelsen: Discombobulated
May 26, 2021 - Bite-sized


I’ve been a bit stressed lately, with my calendar getting rather busy for the weekend, and also the week beyond. I haven’t made a lot of progress with the short story either (for the writing group anthology I may have spoken about last week), and I can feel myself slipping into a few bad habits…things that don’t necessarily hurt anyone, but aren’t really the best use of my time, especially when I get to the end of the day and feel a bit depressed that I haven’t actually done anything massively productive.

Don’t get me wrong, I make school lunches, dinners, do dishes, vacuum, fold laundry, all the rest of that jazz, but in my mind that’s all a bit…peripheral? I feel good if I’ve done some writing in my day, or failing that, some paid work, or ticked something off a list that I’ve been procrastinating about for a long time. But anyway. Yesterday I lost a chunk of time because I went down the rabbit hole of writing random rpg tables in Python. They are sort of addictive. I’ve never done anything with Python before but it’s relatively easy to track down some examples to tweak, and go from there.

Today I had to stick around in the kitchen for a chunk of the morning, as I’d prepped some sourdough last night and had a couple of loaves to bake. It was FREEZING this morning, in the vicinity of 3 degrees celcius for the little pocket I live in, and being in the same room as a cranking hot oven didn’t feel like the worst idea in the world. While I was there I decided to bash out an hour of testing; testing vocal commands for a device being produced by a large company I unfortunately can’t mention. But anyway, it was pretty cozy and I managed to get through the work. (I do enjoy it, but once you’ve been through a few different cycles it gets very repetitive.) Coffee and fresh bread were on hand.

The story has been getting me down a bit though, as I mentioned, and I thought, ok, let’s just do something different. I looked up some writing prompts online, found something that roughly set me off in a slightly different direction, stapled some scratch printer paper together, and set the timer for five minutes. The timer startled me a bit the first time, as usually I try to do twenty-five minute pomodoros.” I duly circled the bit in my last writing sprint that I would use for the next writing session (as described by Peter Elbow with his freewriting method, either in Writing Without Teachers or Writing With Power, I can’t remember), and I was off again. I very specifically was trying to write almost without thinking, trying to get into freewrite mode. Maybe something would show up that I could use for my story. If not, hey, at least I wrote today.

I think there’s something there. Not ready yet to touch it or label it or hold it up to the light, but after writing six pages of longhand I’m feeling happy about this process. If it turns out that this one’s a dud, so be it, I’ll just keep going with this until something is unearthed.