Samuel Beckett says, “Habit is a great deadener.”
Well, Samuel Beckett was a hero of my young adulthood, but you know what? He had boils and cysts and probably a panic disorder, and I still bet he didn’t have junk all over his floor.
No, I mean, I know what Beckett meant. Don’t get bored. Don’t be boring. A lot of us fear this … being normal, being less than quirky-creative all the time.
Part of my self-identity is wrapped up in being the one who brings tarot cards, the one who’s experimenting with food coloring, the one who dances in the rain … and yes, the one who’s too busy writing to clean up her own mess or be on time.
But you know what? The manic pixie dream girl trope has outworn her welcome; she can’t take care of herself, so she’s been sent to a home.
Manic pixie poster girl Zooey Deschanel has become a parody of herself.
I have the mental capacity of an MFA grad, and I can take care of myself, but I don’t always choose to do it. Sometimes I fill up every corner of my life with creativity until I’m drowning in it … and not being very creative.
Avoiding routine chores starts to look a lot like inertia.
Have you ever put off doing the dishes or laundry because you felt it was more important to write?
I mean, I have.
And have you ever worried that if you get too concerned with having a nice, calming place to call home that you’ll normalize and forget your crazy artist dreams?
Let me level with you (and me) for a sec. Being normal … not a threat. It’s never going to happen. It is safe to work towards having a nice, calming home. It is safe to take a break from writing to do the dishes.
A certain amount of habit is necessary. Otherwise, the laundry never gets done, and the papers never get tossed, and … ahem, the writing never happens.
I’m fighting my own inertia (in stuff and in writing) by reading books with titles like It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys.
Today, I threw away about 8 cubic feet of paper. Yesterday, I donated about forty pounds of clothes and shoes. Two weeks ago, I gave away a TV, two chairs, my late dog’s luggage, and a never-used-by-me citrus juicer. I drive for work so much that I used to keep half of my life in my car; for a month now, the car has been clutter free.
They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. I, however, have not found that to be true. I have found forming an awesome habit — like eating ice cream before bed every night — takes less than one day.
Taking care of myself and my space (and my writing because it all tends to work together) is awesome. Habit formed.