In my point of view, writing has always been a relationship rather than an action verb and every relationship has its routine mannerisms or habits that are done in order to achieve a ‘final goal’. In this case, members of the relationship (writing) are myself, the topic I am expected to write about and the circumstances I write under. Over time, this love triangle has made me realize that there are basic, repetitive practices that I participate in. Yet, it is worth noting that when having a general outlook at my writing habits, I find them repetitive but when I zoom in I realize that the minor details of each habit changes along with the topic I am writing about.
Below I have concluded seven general habits that I rehearse during every writing session:
I must have a hot drink and especially coffee before and during the writing process. I do not really have a rational explanation or a reason why I do so but scientifically speaking, I have studied in Health psychology that coffee boosts the glucose rush to the brain almost immediately. Probably, this helps me focus more on what I am writing about without being distracted easily by my environment. I also love feeling the hot coffee going down my esophagus. I feel that every sip that goes down my throat and into my stomach, washes away the confusion in my head and clarifies what I am writing about. Of course, the drink has to stay hot which means that if the coffee warms down a little I would have to get up and heat it again!
I must be sitting under natural sunlight. Unfortunately, the weather in the United Arab Emirates does not help at all because despite having this generous amount of sunlight, we also have a generous amount of heat which prevents me from sitting outside. To solve the latter problem, I sit indoors beside a window where the sunlight would fall directly on my face and desk. This applies to both my room at home and when I sit in the university student center. However, I don’t like writing in the university library because I feel like I am being locked up inside a place where there is no sunlight and therefore I feel I am being disconnected from nature. Plus, I cannot have my cup of coffee there. I do not usually feel comfortable writing at night or in the dark yet going back to the minor details that I mentioned in the first paragraph, sometimes when I put my head on the pillow, ideas start rushing through in my head. To prevent these ideas from evaporating I start writing them either in my journal or on my phone and I go over them the next day when I wake up.
Being in the 21st century I feel ashamed to say that I do not feel comfortable using technology to do most of my work. When it comes to writing this means that I have to organize my thoughts on paper because I feel that writing them down reinforces them in my head versus typing them on a word document. I feel more liberated writing on a paper because it is easier to cross out words or create branches and add ideas than writing on a word document. This also applies to drafting. Since it is compulsory in University to have assignments typed out and not hand written, I do use word document. However, I do print the draft after I finish it and start editing it on paper using my pen. I realized that way I pinpoint more mistakes that I ever saw on a word document.
I believe that everything we write comes directly from inside us. In other words, we reflect ourselves in what we write about. Based on this perception I use my experiences and everything around me to guide my writing. For example, I might be writing about ‘dementia in the elderly’ and I look around me and find many technological devices. At that point I immediately jot down an idea of how ‘technology influences dementia.” Even during the writing process, brain storming never stops. In fact, I find the best ideas coming through only when I start progressing in the piece that I am writing.
Most of the time I feel mentally exhausted that I just need to close my eyes for a few minutes and clear up my mind. I found out that when I take a 10 minute break in between, I actually become even more productive and my eyes catch mistakes that they neglected before taking the 10 minute break. However, in some instances I get so attached to the piece I am writing that I am simply unable to let get of my seat or my thoughts would shatter everywhere. Therefore, I do not take a break until I am 100% done with my piece but this usually happens when I have a deadline approaching.
I try to become as interactive as possible in the relationship. This means that I read my arguments/ points from a reader’s perspective. I read the paper as if I am reading it for the first time and question the validity of what I wrote. I literally do implement the quote that says “you are your worst enemy” in terms of attacking my ideas. Sometimes when I print my draft I write questions on the side of the paper when I ever I find flaws in my main points or in the supporting evidence I use. That way I ensure that I give in a perfect paper that even if a reader asks a question, I would be ready with the answer. I specifically do that when I am expected to present the paper that I wrote.
Last but not least
I like to listen to music while writing. However, I found out that certain genres were interesting and others distracting based on the topic I am writing about. I feel that sometimes the lyrics of songs put me in a poetic mood which makes me a better writer overall. Sometimes I also listen to classical tunes (no lyrics) and with time I feel the music, the topic and my thoughts all integrate and are presented onto the piece I am writing which polishes my paper very much, giving it a coherent finish. In other words, the smooth flow of music is influenced in my writing by making the flow of ideas coherent.
To sum up, writing is more like a relationship to me than an action verb and the basic habits that I have developed within the ‘love triangle’ mentioned above are seven. These habits are the need for a hot drink before and during writing, sitting under natural sunlight, writing my thoughts on paper instead of using technology, using everything around me as a guide for my writing, taking a 10 minute break, being interactive with my writing and finally listening to music.