What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

Each day I get up, fix my oats with soymilk and fruit, and re-read the soymilk carton for the millionth time while I eat.  The oats help my writing.  The mindless reading does not, and can be eliminated, replaced with a more mindful appreciation of the morning.

Each day I go to work.  I play with children.  I engage their parents in both frivolous and meaningful conversations.  I observe and foster development.  I comfort and love and admonish.  I guide and I model.  I also fill out a huge amount of bureaucratic paperwork.  The human interaction, the discovery, the cycles of action, reflection and planning help my writing.  The busywork does not.  It cannot be eliminated, but maybe my attitude about it can be transformed into something more beneficial.

Each day I study my anatomy and physiology.  I take notes, I recite, I test myself, I memorize.  I create diagrams and models.  All of it helps my writing, especially since this is one of the major subjects I write about.  There is not a single aspect of my schooling at the moment that is not infomative and empowering to me as a writer and human being.

Each day I worry.  I worry about money.  I worry about my character.  I worry about my habits.  I worry about my dreams.  I worry about my friends.  I worry about my family.  I worry about the world.  My worrying is almost never helpful, except when I manage to write about the worrying, which is occasionally hilarious.  I could eliminate the worry by replacing it with action and acquiescence.  The old AA prayer stands so true here:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Each day I destroy myself.  I pick at the skin on my fingertips.  I chew my lips and the insides of my mouth.  I scratch myself, and the places I scratch habitually are raw.  It doesn’t help.  It’s never helped.  As a young girl, I practiced gymnastics and ballet until I was aching and bleeding and in tears, but refused to stop until my knees gave out in middle school.  When I was a teenager, I would burn myself on lightbulbs, and the scar on my arm reminds me of the desperation of those days.  This is the adult facet of a habit that hasn’t changed since childhood.  It’s less desperate, less dangerous, but has no more place in my life than it ever has.  It must be eliminated.

Each day I write.  I write on my massage therapy blog.  I write on my computer and in my journal.  I write thank-you notes and reminders and love letters.  All of it contributes.  All of it matters.

Each day I read.  Each day I pray.  Each day I perform my ablutions and recite “Allah-u-Abha” 95 times.  My religious discipline, my background in service and fasting and faith, these are the only reasons I have developed the strength of will to write.  My writing would be lost without them.

Each day I dream.  Some of the dreams are foolish.  They are rehashings of realities and fantasies pieced together from bits of the past.  These I would better do without.  But some are meaningful.  They bring an energy and creativity and joyfulness into my life that would otherwise not exist.  And these I will keep.  Keep, and nurture, and grow.