Twenty Highly Ineffective Habits of Mostly Ineffectual Writers

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1. Upon waking, using a prescriptive method to get out of bed, to stretch, and ladle dreams back where they belong, and then to say aloud, “And, in the middle, there were none. So, wake me up, fucker, before you go-go.”

2. Saving quarters for laundry on the top ledge of a chest-high bookshelf, so that said quarters get knocked around a bunch because keys and wallet and other accoutrements of this life are also tossed there for storage, and so that some quarters perforce take nosedives and become lodged in strange places between things nestled on or wrestled to the floor.

3. Labeling and/or categorizing thoughts as either “Out Of Order” “Gone Sunday Driving” or “Further Conclusions Never Reached” (If one is alone too often, or more so than most, it would be best to forget about this one; it won’t work.)

4. Without pants, but just in boxers with socks on, writing down a “Plan Of Action” in the last hour of morning for what lies ahead, daily. (A mohair vest may be worn here, preferably over a v-neck undershirt, but it is not recommended for those who desire optimal uninterrupted working conditions and whose phones remain out of airplane mode.)

5. Never crossing off anything that has been written on a list — also, keeping a list of titles for lists you’ve yet to make.

6. Stocking up on gum. Chewing said gum quietly, softly, with mouth closed. Deposing of chewed gum wads in stacks of junk mail where it stays in exile, awaiting either execution by fire (done with matchsticks, of course, in the bathtub) or a pauper’s grave burial in a brown grocery bag.

7. Imbibing Hungarian coffee in the afternoon, potato vodka in the evening, and Benadryl spiked with codeine after midnight. Think this too, at certain times of incensed unbridled rage, “If there were a wig to wear for a caption’s hair, well my dear, I’d be worn thin with care, to not be topped with golden locks so fair, and paint any picture I’d dare, Claire.” (Name may be changed to protect the innocent or not-so.)

8. Cursing at oneself while blowing hot air on cold hands in the midst of wearing plaid pajama bottoms with a white button-up dress shirt, lessons always never learned; and a hard pinch will do, here, preferably on the wrist or ankle.

9. Hating gerunds but still using them much more than necessary. (AKA, the towel will have its shower. Also of note: Lee J. Cobb never said that. And this: James Joyce had bed bugs. Oh, and this as well: Vincent Van Gough was not a belly dancer.)

10. Listening to the same song over and over until it loses all emotional meaning, and then listening to it some more until even tying your shoes seems like a herculean effort. Eventually coming to the conclusion that all art is quite useless, but being addicted to it is a full-time job anyway; and then having the inebriating thought, “Music is the strangest drug,” while crooning, “Life is but a meme, Sweetheart,” into the handle of a tennis racket.

11. Avoidance of repetition at all times, i.e., “I am not a park ranger. Do not ever call me Ishmael, or any of that Holden-Caulfield kind of crap. There are sprinklers doling out mist from the magnolias. David Lynch doesn’t ride the bus.”

12. Constantly in the midst of the obfuscation of one’s inner life so that it might appear inchoate and muddy to others, but making sure all neckties only hang to the belt line.

13. Imbibing just a small dollop of frosting three-four times daily, and then, ever so mildly, telling the television (off or on at the time): “The glistening leaves leave crinkled shadows on my curtains as day shifts and stunts through to sundown. I am of the after-dinner nature, without the postprandial mint. Curious, what these grease-spot thoughts will do to one. Have a lime-and-vinegar mackerel sandwich. Find some shade. Do the dishes. Stomp on a crane fly. There goes the thistle from the milk. Parked cars get more done than I do. ‘Verily,’ I screech. It’s all a stopgap without a measure to its name.”

14. “Learn how to fucking type, you moron!” (This, screamed at oneself on multiple occasions during the day’s course, is par for most of these courses.)

15. Sleeping on a threadbare mattress on the floor — no comforter, no top sheet — wanting to be classified, wishing to be stereotyped, yearning to be a statistic. Pillow? You don’t need no stinking pillow.

16. Conscripting ideas to go along with the murder of tiny winged insects while muttering, “All genius is bullshit. Work harder, jerk.”

17. Attaining the optimal level of guilt to make magic not happen, perhaps by stubbing one’s toe, spelling pretty much everything wrong, mispronouncing one’s own name, or just thinking, ‘Nobody left to take in the mail.’

18. “John Lennon was an ego-maniacal asshole.” (This, being said to strangers at odd times, goes without saying, of course.)

19. Living in a coffee cup, sleeping in a derby, kissing empty vermouth bottles to sleep, rooting for the away team, getting bored, getting jumpy, using a lot of hand soap at 20-second intervals of scrubbing, saluting whatever flag’s around, returning all of one’s sentiments to the cheap seats — and all of these things to not live by and/or do too much and not enough of.

20. No calendars. No gloves. No socks. Shiver with bad luck. Pull out some hair. Check the time. Don’t shower before sunset. Raise a cat from a kitten. Don’t over or under eat.

There you go. That’s it! You’ve done it! Now, see how salubrious and fit you are, and how lofty and proud you feel about yourself? Isn’t it wonderful? Aren’t you just ready to knock ’em all dead? Get out there kid. There are fanatics in the drywall and coming out of the concrete’s cracks. Go find that you that you’ll forever now do. Isn’t it just a breeze? There. That’s the stuff. Just perfect. You’ve got it made.

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