The Habit of Writing

Habits are a funny thing. They build slowly, influenced by friends, work, location, even weather patterns and time of the year.

Nothing reminds me of this more then returning to an old home. There’s a road through New Paltz, and one specific gas station that makes me crave Half Baked Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, even if I haven’t eaten it in months. There’s something about talking to my sister that always makes me want to pick up the nearest book and read it until 3 AM. And there is something about sitting in my father’s kitchen that makes me want to write.

I don’t know why. It’s December, and his kitchen is so drafty I’m freezing. My feet are ice when they touch the ground, and I know I could curl up on the couch under a blanket and finally be warm. I tell myself I’m going to check my facebook quickly, then go waste an afternoon away in front of a bad movie. But then I sit, and start to watch the snow out the window. Suddenly I find myself with a cup of coffee, that I don’t remember deciding to make, surrounded by crazy clutter and the urge to write is so powerful I know that I’m not making my way to couch any time soon.

Suddenly it’s 8:00 at night on my last night in town. I haven’t seen half the people I meant to see this afternoon. I haven’t packed. I’m sure my friends are out somewhere doing something more useful then I am. But I’m unusually happy living in my own little head, outlining a new story idea or updating Branded.

And I’m still freezing, though I’m focused on whatever happens to be on my computer screen. So while I’m editing my latest rambling, I’m wrapped in a scarf and I’ve crammed a winter hat over my crazy hair to keep the heat from escaping my brain along with all these brilliant ideas, and I’m wondering WHY did I leave my half gloves in Florida at my desk, when they would clearly be more useful to me here in New York where it’s freezing.

Of course, as I’ve hinted in the re-launching of Branded, I spend an abnormal amount of time second guessing what I’ve written, and though sitting in Dad’s kitchen is an excellent catalyst for idea generation, it doesn’t solve my over editing problem. I have a plethora of semi-confused faces I make at my computer, trying to decide what should make the Branded cut and what shouldn’t.

It’s probably a good thing I’m tucked in the back corner of my office at Zimmerman, because this is sort of what I look like all day while reading vendor emails, editing Joanne’s (our Firehouse and Blue Cross assistant) work, and re-creating media plans. Like most things in my life, writing and work are both processes of many outrageous facial expressions, hand motions, confusion, uncertainty, and finally forward movement.

Speaking of forward movement, that’s probably exactly why I feel like writing when I sit in my Dad’s kitchen. This is where I wrote more than a few of the original blog posts for Branded, sent out multiple cover letters, re-worked my resume a million times, and finally received the call that I had a job a Zimmerman if I wanted it. For months post-Syracuse I would wake up, and sit in the kitchen job searching. I had a to-do list of actionable job-hunting tasks to complete, and I would knock the out one after another, no matter what my motivation level of the day was.

Like I said, habits are a funny thing. Even now, those I don’t have any need to job hunt, the impulse to continue in my old habits urges me forward.

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