Friday, December 28, 2018

My Writing Day: A User’s Guide : Jennifer Wortman

1. Get out of bed.

2. Seriously, get out of bed.



5. Get yourself and the kids ready for the day and take the kids to school. This will require about two hours but will feel like two days. If your husband isn’t home to help, it will feel like two years.

6. Return home. Consider the day’s workload. Feel immensely grateful you work from home on a flexible schedule, then remember the pitfalls of working from home on a flexible schedule. Write an enormous to-do list full of items you won’t complete because your work-work will distract you from your other work and vice versa. The items you won’t complete will include such frivolities as paying overdue bills, calling someone to fix the sink that’s been broken for months, and making doctor appointments to address various maladies.

7. Time to write.

8. Check Twitter.

9. Seriously, time to write. If you don’t write now, the work-work and other work will take over and you’ll never write. (EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON blah blah blah…)

10. Check Facebook.

11. Sufficiently demoralized by Facebook, write. Depending on the length of your to-do list, write for as little as ten minutes or as long as three hours. Only write for three hours when your to-do is list is huge and you meant to write for ten minutes. Only write for ten minutes on the rare day when you have three hours to write and suddenly find you have nothing to say. This writing may include typing and deleting the same sentence many times, rereading pages you’ve already written many times, and composing pages of literal nonsense.

12. Time to work-work, which may include one or more of the following: teaching creative writing online, proofreading books, and editing manuscripts. Think about how much writing you’d get done if you didn’t have to work-work, then realize that if you didn’t have to work-work, you’d likely spend much of the day huddled inside a great pit of despair.

13. After work-work, engage in a flurry of activity, such as doing as little housework as possible, picking up the kids and inadequately attending to their needs, doing more work-work, reading manuscripts for a literary journal, submitting manuscripts to literary journals, catching up on a small bit of what got shunted while you wrote and work-worked, etc., bingeing on Netflix, playing Two Dots, and scrapping plans to cook dinner to hit up the taco truck, sometimes all at once.

14. Get the kids to bed and enter the halcyon post/pre-writing-day phase, which may include reading, through which you simultaneously motivate and discourage yourself by imbibing the work of superior, more successful writers; more Netflix bingeing or, as you like to call it, “plot studies,” because you suck at plot and the shows you watch, though often sucky at many things, excel at plot, allowing you to pretend your compulsive TV watching will improve your writing; more writing, usually poetry or weird shit befitting your half-asleep state; sleeping, during which your unconscious mind might weave a writing-worthy dream or spit out an answer to a writing problem, thus giving you something to do when you wake up at 3 a.m. in an insomniacal panic; going back to sleep, if you’re lucky, so you can make it through the next writing day.

15. Get out of bed.

16. Seriously, get out of bed!

Jennifer Wortman is the author of This. This. This. Is. Love. Love. Love., a short story collection forthcoming from Split Lip Press in spring of 2019. Her fiction, essays, and poetry appear in Glimmer Train, Normal School, The Collagist, Hobart, DIAGRAM, Monkeybicycle, PANK, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Collapsar, Juked, and elsewhere. She is an associate fiction editor at Colorado Review and an instructor at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Find more at

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