I would like to talk about some of the practices, including the varying results of some of the things I eat/drink and some web searches, that I have engaged in while writing since beginning my structured schedule as I make progress toward the completion of my first novel.
I have heard countless times that the most productive times for writing creatively are in the very early hours of the morning. Something about still having one metaphorical foot in your subconscious world because you’ve just rolled out of bed. I have actually not found this to be my most productive time. In fact, on days when I have done any writing in the six o’clock hour, I frequently end up with the shortest word count for the day’s work. Or I end up having Googling mishaps like the one I had last week.
Google. Most of the time, I turn off the Internet, and especially–believe it or not–Facebook while I am within my ninety minutes per day schedule. But I do make an exception for Google. Like when I can’t remember an Italian word. An important portion of the story I am telling in my book features an Italian immigrant family on New York’s Lower East Side in the early 1900s. I took some Italian several years ago, and I’ve visited Italy a few times. I also happen to be a native speaker of Spanish, which has a lot of words in common with Italian. But at low-productivity early morning hours, I forget most of the Italian words I know. I would hereby like to strongly advise against entering the words Italian and ass in the same search. <Shudder> Still wish I could un-see those results. And yes, I know that it’s the same word in Italian as it is in Spanish, too. In my defense, I was on little sleep and I’d had no caffeine or nourishment when this happened.
Then there are times when I don’t have one of my New York City maps with me, even though I keep one upstairs and one downstairs for quick access because it is a constant reference. These are also times when I resort to my good, if dangerous, friend Google. The main downfall there is that I end up seeing names of restaurants in close proximity to some of the locations I’m researching, and before I know it, I am reading Yelp reviews for restaurants, and mapping out where to eat on my next escape research trip to the City.
Food and drink. Some writing friends I have spoken with recently are very keen on having a glass of wine while writing. This tends to be an utter impossibility for me, given that I do most of my writing either in the very early morning, or mid morning while my little boy is in preschool. I do, however, find that I absolutely need to drink something, and that needs to be a hot drink. Otherwise–true story–I end up sitting in the library or Whole Foods wearing four layers of sweaters, a fifth sweater wrapped around my legs, a scarf, a hat, and fingerless gloves. I like to think that this completes my look as a starving–albeit full-figured–artist. Now all I need is a garret on the Seine.
Last Saturday, my husband and I were on our first overnight getaway together (senza bambino) since becoming parents. After dinner at a rather pretentious restaurant where, to be fair, the deliciousness of the food made up for its overpriced small portions, he and I headed for–wait for it!–the hotel bar. If you knew us, you would know that this in an uncharacteristic thing for us to do. In fact as we sat there ordering a drink, we determined that neither of us could remember when we had last had a drink at a bar together. I still had writing to do that night, so I decided to test the theory of writing while sipping something alcoholic, and see how the creative juices flowed. I ordered a liqueur that we were introduced to years ago by my husband’s beloved aunt, called Drambuie. I will say, it was as delightfully warm and sweet as I’d remembered. But I did not find that it did much for my writing per se. I did, however, taste wasabi peas for the first time at that bar. Yum! I think crunching on the peas did more to fuel my story-telling while the Drambuie did more to make me sleepy.
I wish I could say that my Googling “accident” happened on the one occasion when I engaged in drinking while writing, but I think I still have a good excuse. This final picture is of part of the overpriced dinner we had Saturday night. Just because. I mean, a fourteen dollar scallop is just worth sharing, I think. And because it really was very good. And the scallop came with a celery root puree (another first for me that night) which I also found wonderful. Celery root and wasabi peas, two thumbs up!