Maybe I’ll just go for a minute

I suck at self discipline. Just suck. Last night I missed Knit Night because I’m trying to use the carrot and stick approach on my own psyche. This is tricky, since my own psyche usually sees me coming. In a desperate attempt to finish some writing work I told myself that if I made my word count goal, and only if I met my word count goal, could I go with my friends and play at knitting. I didn’t make the goal. I forced myself to sit in my office the whole time, and all I did was get totally pissy about it. Angry with myself for making rules for myself that myself apparently feels are unfair.


(Part of myself is obviously about 13 years old.) In any case, the rule is that I sit at my desk each day until the word count for that day is done. When it is done, then I can go to knit night, or yoga or watch tv and knit… but until that work is done I am to sit. I allow myself to earn “time off for good behavior”, by getting ahead of schedule, writing extra so that I can take a day off without falling behind (that’s how I got to go canoeing.) The only other things I am allowed to do at the desk are drink and eat (because my psyche is neither cruel nor hopeless) parent the children (because neglect is still illegal, even if you have a book deadline) and knit. Knitting helps me think. I choose something plain and let my fingers zouk along while I sit there. Right now, this means that I knit a lot through the day. (I think way more than I write, apparently)

I was feeling pretty proud of this level of self discipline, right until it turns out that it might be backfiring, since the more fun I miss because I am holding myself to these rules, the more angry I get, and the more time I spend sitting there fuming instead of writing. I’m starting to feel like I have myself in prison for writers. (At least there is yarn here.) Apparently I need a little more balance (or chocolate) before I get this self discipline thing down.


I am making very good time on the socks though. I am apparently never too annoyed to knit.

STR sock club socks “Summer of Love”, str lightweight, 2.25mm needles.

154 thoughts on “Maybe I’ll just go for a minute

  1. When I am procrastinating at work, I just check your blog. Most days, I check many times a day. If you haven’t written a new entry, the comments are always good for a few minutes. So sorry you don’t have the same option. Hang in there and don’t be too hard on yourself!

  2. Those are great socks!
    As for negoting with myself — I try all the tricks and strategies I’ve learned from years in financial markets – but when I’m on both sides of the table I still always seem to get the raw end of the deal…….

  3. I think you should get to go to knit night once a week if you actually put in the sit time each day that week. Otherwise you might spend too much time “thinking” (knitting at your desk) instead of writing.
    Sometimes the brain needs a break.

  4. Procrastination is a wonderful thing. I, too, have word count deadlines, but not for anything as glamorous as writing a book. People TELL me what to type, word for word. How boring. When I get REALLY bored, I have a bath and then knit one repeat on my WIP. Sometimes I have a glass of wine. I never let myself have more than one hour off, and then I’m back at it.
    Another option is to set little goals: meet 1/4 of my word goal and then I can go knit (or nap, or bath, or take the puppy for a quick walk.
    Anyways, I hope this gives you some ideas (and sanity. You’re not the only one, dear. (((HUGS))) )

  5. I think we all have an inner 13 year old – although I have found that the voice tends to get a bit weaker as I get older. I prescribe chocolate – it contains antioxidants & other good stuff so you needn’t feel guilty about eating it (esp if it contains almonds).

  6. As a freelance writer I totally understand the whole “I WILL SIT AT MY DESK AND WRITE BUT I’M PISSED AT MYSELF FOR DOING IT” thing. My yarn is stored in here too, but it just makes me want to cast on an knit another mateless sock! Good luck!

  7. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Most of us are 13 years old when it comes to self-discipline (well, the interesting ones, anyway). All writers think more than they write. It’s the biggest and most time consuming part of the process, as it should be. The rest is just transcription.
    Not all writers knit while they think, though. So you should be congratulating yourself on getting your work done AND producing an absolutely gorgeous sock-and-a-half. I am truly, deeply impressed.
    More chocolate doesn’t hurt either.

  8. But what gorgeous summer socks! And even if you do eat chocolate, only your inner 13-year-old will break out, so enjoy!

  9. If you really were thirteen, you’d write enough words, but the copy would suck. Then you’d go play with an utterly clean conscience.

  10. Did you ever think that maybe you are one of those people that can only get things done when it comes down to the 11th hour no matter what head games we play with ourselves ? My two sisters are like that –11th hour and WOW zoom whip bang boom and they “”getter done.”It drives me up the wall to have stress and deadlines so I start to peck awy at something months before it has to accomplished. This behaviour drives them up the wall. We do have fun?? though. Good luck with the book –at least you are getting some knitting done–it’ll all work out.

  11. At least your 13, I think my inner child is at most 12 or something πŸ™‚ Self-discipline is the hardest to get right – at least you have a plan and a process.
    The cuff on that sock is darn cute.

  12. My psyche always see me coming as well. I am the queen of procrastinators, so I feel for you.
    I guess this means you are not going to Kitchener this weekend. Guess I’ll have to buy all the delicious stuff that you would have. Gotta keep the vendors in business…

  13. My father had a saying when I was a teenager… “do what you must do, then you can do what you want to do”. I hated that statement then, and I still hate it.
    Go play with yarn. It will do your soul good. πŸ™‚

  14. Doesn’t self-discipline feel overrated sometimes? I find that I can be good about getting things done as long as the internet isn’t anywhere nearby; otherwise, I check Ravelry, play with my pictures, look at blogs, think about what I wish I could be knitting instead of the work I should be doing, and try to figure out how to write comments on the papers I should be grading whilst knitting at the same time. I still haven’t found a way to do that.
    Chocolate and port, baby, the double antioxidant dose. And the socks are gorgeous!

  15. goals are good, but punishment doesn’t work. just look at the u.s. penal system. or dieting. do what you must, but don’t feel guilty when you need something else. sometime all you make is a rut to sit in.

  16. You can do it Steph! Go Harlot Go! We can be your own virtual cheerleaders!
    And I think it’s good that you think more than you write. That’s how your writing turns out so excellent!
    I can’t help but picture regular prisons filled with as much yarn as I picture your writer’s prison to have. That could be interesting. Instead of the fights over race and drugs, they could squabble over metal vs. bamboo dpns, and natural fibers vs. acrylic. There could even be an underground cashmere market!
    Go Harlot Go! =)

  17. You need to be kinder to yourself. And an evening with knitting people is, actually, an extension of knitting…there could be inspiration there….

  18. Ha ha ha — snort –Emily you so funny!!!
    I’m with you on the whole setting goals thing and how hard it can be. I usually find myself scrambling to finish things that I’ve known about for weeks. I tell my self that I work well under pressure but it think that’s true only because I HAVE too due to serious procrastination.

  19. Personally, I feel I ought not to need the adrenaline from a deadline that I’m about not to make, in order to complete whatever it is. But I seem to. Sigh. Yesterday, I finished my daughter’s birthday socks a day late (in my defense, I left them at a sushi restaurant for three weeks recently, and I was designing them as I went, but I can’t say that I wouldn’t have been late anyway) and today I am finishing my husband’s birthday fingerless gloves three days late. But knitting deadlines are easier than writing deadlines when your inner thirteen-year-old is whining.
    Can you talk into a dictaphone as you knit, then go back later and mess with the bare bones words that you recorded?
    The very wet blocked socks look great, BTW.

  20. Remember to be nice to yourself too. Only getting to do something you usually do after your “chores” are done can feel like a restriction rather than a carrot.
    Maybe you need a bigger carrot? If I meet my word count 7 days (don’t have to be consecutive days), I’ll go to Lettuce Knit and get a ball or two of something lovely for my thinking time? Give yourself a sticker or something for each day you make it and then trade them in for the yarn trip. That way you have something tangible to show your progress.
    In the meantime you’re providing me with plenty of procrastination fodder. Thanks to you I tried socks and am working on my second pair (maybe this time the heels will match). I just finished reading your archives from before I found your blog, in the middle of that I found your thrummed mittens and made them, and now I’m making the last minute hat to go with it. When that’s done, I’ll be casting on the baby Tulip Cardigan Eeek!
    I’m planning to see you at Bailey’s Crossroads. I called to see if I needed to RSVP. They acted like I was very strange. It’s going to be funny seeing their faces when everyone shows up. I’m planning to get there very early. I’ve told my dear Muggles they’re on their own that day.
    This is only the second time I’ve posted because you usually have hundreds of comments and I don’t see how you find time to even read them all. I just want to say though that I love your work and through your books and blog I’ve come to realize that dragging my knitting with me wherever I go isn’t as strange as some people seem to think it is and there is a community of other crazy people out there even if I don’t see them face to face.

  21. PS: hope your annoyance is not translating into a tighter gauge on that second sock. You know how that goes. Friends don’t let friends knit angry (on anything that needs to fit).

  22. Your story just conjured up the image of one of the characters in Martha Grimes Richard Jury books–an author who had adopted the practice of chaining herself to her desk with a logging chain and placing the key to the lock up on top of a cupboard that was hard to reach. Not that I’m suggesting you invest in logging chain, I just recognize that sense of having to force yourself to get it done by whatever means are necessary.
    That’s one of the major downsides to writing and editing–it has to be done when your brain is in the right state to do it, which is all too frequently not tied to any rational schedule and resists all attempts at force. Or maybe that’s just me.

  23. I am the best person in the world at breaking my own rules and inventing loopholes. (All that legal training comes in handy there.) And neurologically, you do see yourself coming. I think it’s the autonomic nervous system, or something like that.
    About the only thing that works for me is to confess my discipline goal to my kids and let them police me. I find it is really, really embarrassing to explain a lack of willpower to a 9-year-old…

  24. Self-discipline is so hard. This post at 1:45 pm is evidence that I don’t have any. I’m impressed by the level of discipline that prevented you from writing garbage so you could go play.

  25. What are you working on? What is the next book about?
    I hope you are working on a book filled with tutorials. I still use your “correcting cables” tutorial all the time.

  26. 1. Writers always write to deadline – and right up against deadline. This means they know (even when they don’t want to “know” it) exactly how long it takes to produce whatever word count and instinctively kick in at exactly the moment that the writing MUST begin.
    2. Thinking IS writing, especially if you are copying down what you are thinking.
    3. Thinking can be done anywhere.
    4. Going away from writing , like sleeping on problems, can help solve blocks. I personally like to go shopping. When I come back, the writing just flows where before it was nowhere to be found.

  27. You know..and I’m just putting this out there….Maybe you would get inspiration and ideas if you WENT to Knit Night…. ‘s all I’m sayin’ …
    Alison The Enabler

  28. Self discipline is never much fun, but it does work. Just out of curiosity, have you ever considered voice recognition software? One of the things I love about your writing is that it reads as if you’re speaking to me. Is there any reason you couldn’t speak your writing to the computer? Would that free you up more to hit your word count each day? There’s still a ton of editing to do, but at least the bones of the writing get done and then all you have to do is dress them. In case you couldn’t guess, I’m a better editor than I am a writer.
    Plus, then you could knit even AS you produce your words.
    Keep up the good work!

  29. Discipline and punishment are 2 different things. I say be gentle with yourself and go write in the park or in the back yard, or somewhere that 13-yo will enjoy. Discipline AND fun, see??

  30. You are amazing. How do you knit sooo fast? Looking forward to seeing you at Third Place Books on the 14th.

  31. I’m a freelance writer/photographer, and when I’m not working to meet deadlines, I’m working to create more deadlines by pitching features to editors. And I know every way of procrastinating, bargaining, and making web-fiddling count as work time. (I can’t use wordcount, because that isn’t my problem – getting *down* to wordcount – now, that can be a problem!)
    By the way, Steph, I would love to work with you on your next or future books. If you are procrastinating right this second, here’s a place to see a bookjacket I photographed and designed:
    Now. See that? Everybody’s working!
    Onward to the deadline/s. Bon courage!

  32. Contrary thing aren’t you. What if things like Knit Night produce inspiration for the book? Is that a good enough excuse to be able to go even if you miss your word count?

  33. Is that a little button placket down the side of the cuff, or do my eyes deceive? What color buttons will there be?
    When I really can’t get my pages done, I make a little chart of squares for pages and quarter-hour increments. One hour of butt-in-chair equals a page, even if nothing tangible came of it. Effort counts for something!

  34. I’ve called the Bailey’s Crossroads Borders several times, spacing the calls a couple of weeks apart, to see if they were accepting reservations, & they kept saying no. Most recent call was yesterday afternoon, when they said that they plan to give out tickets starting at 6:30pm, so that the people with tickets can then get in line for seats. I think they’re going to have a riot on their hands – lots of knitter with pointy little sticks! Perhaps Jayme-the-wonder-publicist can set them straight (or help them come up with a better system)?! Between all the folks from Northern VA, plus DC & Maryland, and then those coming in from outlying areas, Borders is going to overwhelmed!

  35. Knit Night should be MANDATORY because it’s food for the soul…good blog fodder, good book fodder!!! It’s like the mandatory inservice teachers are required to attend — except — a whole lot more fun!

  36. Hey Steph-
    It may or may not work for you, but a block-removal trick I use is to abandon the blocked spot and head right to a welcoming spot that I can write about. This lubricates your writing self and eventually, all those welcoming spots that got written about begin to merge and ask for a beginning and an end and lo and behold, there is writing. If nothing else, try freewriting with a timer about something peripheral yet metaphorically similar to the knitting topic to a close friend. Then sort through that to see if there is a phrase or two worth excavating and work from that for another 5 minutes . . . you probably know this technique, which is from Natalie Goldberg’s WRITING DOWN THE BONES. Bet it’s on your shelf. And . . . if the knitting gods have it in them to toss you and your sock into a river to get you to wet block the cuff, I am sure they are capable of helping you meet your deadline too. We (knitters around the world) all have total faith in you . . . borrow some from us if you like.

  37. Your socks are gorgeous, and chocolate is always a good idea, i think. Perhaps bending your rules to include knit night (which clearly inspires you to write) would be a good thing for you.

  38. You need to make writing fun and rewarding, not a drudge and a punishment. Clearly big rewards for big efforts are not working. You’re setting too big a goal for yourself and then punishing yourself for not reaching it.
    Punishment is a poor motivator. You need to set baby goals and reward yourself when you reach each of them.
    Divide your daily word count up into sections and reward yourself for reaching each section. 100 words, and you can knit one round. Another 100 words and you get an M&M. An additional 200 and you can go off and fix yourself lunch.
    Use knitting as a reward, not an “instead of” activity. You’ll get further.

  39. Oh, and for goodness sake, go to Knit Night. Punishment really is a terrible motivator, and you should stop doing that to yourself right now!

  40. Zouk? What the hell is zouk?
    (ok, so I went and looked it up, got two dance references and this: “zouk. Creole Fr. “party,” from zouker “engage in unrestrained social activity.”
    I like that. While you’re fuming, your fingers are engaging in unrestrained social activity. Cool.)

  41. I am the Queen of procratination. I’m sitting here reading your blog instead of taking the dog for a walk, aren’t I? I figure this habit of not keeping my word to myself will catch up to me someday..but writing is different.
    Why don’t you try just making yourself sit at the desk for a certain time period each day. Cut yourself some slack. If you want to go to knit night…GO!! have fun , you have my blessing.
    Beautiful sock you have there m’am.

  42. Love the cuff on those socks! As for the imposed rules for writing, I don’t know a way around it. I’d probably make weekly rules rather than daily ones…and then I’d have to pull an all-nighter at least once a week…and then I’d be tired and crabby. See? You can’t win with deadlines. There is a reason they call it work!

  43. Gotta love your inner life-nazi. I admire your self-discipline, Stephanie. Your getting more done than I, even if it is mostly knitting! πŸ˜‰

  44. Okay, I haven’t read everyone else’s comments, but here’s my theory…
    You HAVE to have fun. Period. The End. Life is balance. Self-deprivation is unhealthy. Om.
    However, HOW MUCH fun you get have can be tied to your writing goals. You only did 25% of your word count? Only 30 minutes of fun. Made 75%? How about two hours of fun? (Increasing returns lead to a high word count completion rate…)
    It’s like a variable compensation plan – everyone gets SOME amount of a base salary… it’s just that you get a HUGE bonus if you overperform (like the canoe trip — HUGE bonus).
    Yup, I’m that personal that applies business theories to her personal life. Sigh.

  45. My husband has even gotten in on my carrot-and-stick writing attempts. Right now he has agreed to work around the house (cleaning!) any time I am working on my writing assignment. It sort of works. Sort of.

  46. I don’t know if this would work for writer’s block, but a good procrastination-busting technique I got from a book is to schedule yourself only so much work time, then some fun time. Then you HAVE to stick to the schedule whether or not your work is done. So, for example, if you’ve scheduled three hours of writing followed by going to knit night at 7 p.m., you have to stop working when 7 o’clock arrives. Somehow the mental trick of only being allowed to work for a certain time really helps me buckle down and actually work.
    Good luck! Remember you’ve always managed it before.

  47. Steph, I’ve been a technical writer for 20+ years. Mostly, I’m a carrot-and-stick gal. But sometimes, especially when I’m stuck, I need to do something that takes my mind completely off the problems at hand. Hence, knitting groups, yoga, spinning groups, long walks, hot baths, things that soothe my soul are not only fun; they are necessities. I think of it as defragging my brain.
    The socks are fabulous. Can’t wait to see you in Seattle!

  48. Shouldn’t you tell yourself that knit night is actually a source of inspiration for writing? Therefore the rule for yourself to give yourself should be: Go to Knit Night No Matter What!…??

  49. You are amazing. I have been suffering through 4 inches of one lacy sock cuff for like 2 weeks!

  50. My friend Sam is a playwright, and for the last twenty years, he has a set time that he sits down to write every day. It is usually no longer than an hour and from time to time the time of day will change which means we are not allowed to call him when he writes. He is the most disciplined artist I know, he has had five plays produced locally which for our area is a fantastic accomplishment. It’s hard, but you will find your way. Have a great day!

  51. Most of the writing teachers I’ve had – and there have been many – use time spent rather than word count completed as their absolute goal. The actual production of words can be a fluid thing, with thinking time making up a big portion of desk time for everyone. Some days the words just don’t work the way you want them to. But the brain still works on it and they’ll come soon.
    Have a daily goal for words, but make the time the mandatory thing. If you put in the desk time, you should come close over time on the word count. On days when the words flow you get the choice of stopping early or banking some extra words for days off. When the words don’t work, don’t force them. What you’d get would be crap anyway, so it’s not worth the frustration. And, as you’ve found, the frustration and bad mood interfere with the words.
    Check your progress on words, though, occasionally. Don’t let the count fall too far behind. You might need to schedule extra time when things flow to make up for much earlier time off for good behavior or days when nothing came.
    Course, this is all second hand knowledge, as I have yet to do any writing to deadline other than in multiple courses. Let me know if this advice actually works.

  52. I love the Sock you are working on…
    Would it be possible to share the pattern with me? Or at least tell me where I could get this pattern.
    It’s simply gorgeous and fun!

  53. I would respectfully point out that if you don’t go out and have fun, you will have nothing to write about except sitting and fuming.

  54. That is brilliant. I keep telling myself to surf less and knit more (there is also the small matter of housework…), and I don’t know why I never thought of bringing my knitting with me to the computer. Multitasking, that’s it.
    Of course I realize this is great for me, but doesn’t help with your deadline. Maybe you could write about the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Knitters? (Don’t look at me, I’ve never been one.)

  55. Now I am not a professional writer nor have I ever had a book published but to make yourself sit there till you have reached a certain word count when the words are stymied doesn’t seem like the best way to me to make one be creative.
    Think stepping back from the computer and doing something like knitting with friends, going for a walk will help clear the cobwebs of your brain so the creativity can flow again.
    Basically, be kinder to yourself, have some fun and you will be brilliantly creative once again!

  56. I have a lot of that going on too, with practicing. I’d argue in favor of doing the yoga first—helps me tackle the other stuff with more calm and patience.
    Love the socks!

  57. I have given up on meeting most deadlines and getting stuff done on time. Now I don’t write books, but trying to unpack shipments and leaving the room makes for a really bright red lake of water and dye on my kitchen floor, with two little girls in it. (one looking like she ran up on something very sharp and pointy in her white and pink dress)
    So, it would take writing deadlines over dye lakes (and the dog poo that happened at the same damn time, and the call from the GYN, and having to pick kids up from the bus stop) But you get to see cool arse knitters in KS in a few weeks! (I will be there!)

  58. Is it possible that the only thing worse than a deadline is having Contact ADD? You get that from being around children full time. Go ahead, blame the deadline and lack of meeting therein on the children. Then go and behave like one!

  59. Sounds like something I read on another person’s blog: she was trying to shed some pounds and so her self-imposed rule was that she had to exercise before picking up the knitting. No workout on Tuesday? No knitting on Tuesday either. Wonder how that is working out for her…I can’t find her blog right now…maybe she self-imploded due to lack of “fiber” in her diet.

  60. Obviously, I don’t write books for a living, but does it ever get to the point where the publishers don’t care when you get the book to them, as long as you get it to them? I imagine you get an advance and then promise to meet the deadline. Somehow, I doubt that Stephen King has to worry about stuff like that anymore.
    Now, to go knit. Or crochet. or something. And look forward to your visit to my area on September 20th! Whoot!

  61. Perhaps you need Joe to act as “Willy” to your “Colette”. You know, lock you in your office and refuse to feed you until you write a specified number of pages (or reach the specified word count).

  62. I know several writers, including song writers, who swear that your rules are the way to work. A couple have offices downtown even. They get up, they dress for work, they go in, they write from 8 to 2, they finish, go home and pick up the kids from school. On the other hand, one of these friends told me that when they went in for jury duty, they were asked “job?” “writer” – “for the paper?” – “freelance, but I have a deadline next week.” – they put down unemployed. 😎

  63. So it’s a good thing I didn’t call you last night and tell you about the fun we were having?
    I had my spinning wheel. Used it even. Spectacularly badly, but to the untrained eye there were some concurrent foot and hand motions that resemble those used to turn fibre into yarn.

  64. I’ve been doing that with finishing unpacking – and it isn’t working well either!!! Love the socks and the colorway!
    I can’t tell you how much fun I had getting to meet you when you were in Burlington, MA at the Borders…it was great!!!

  65. hi! This reminds me of a famous moment in my family history when my mother made rice pudding – for the first time ever, and we were not a big rice eating family to begin with – and then insisted that the four of us kids could not leave the table until we had eaten it (imagine – being sentenced to eat dessert!). We all sat there for a very long time; I don’t think any of us actually ate it all (somehow the dog figures prominently in most retellings of this story) and I am pretty sure none of us is terribly fond of rice pudding to this day.
    There is definitely a moral to this somewhere. Now if I was only sure what it was. The socks are lovely, both the dunked and the undunked.
    Even grown-ups need their play dates.

  66. Today’s post reminds me of this quote I heard from a friend.
    “Thou shall not should on thyself today.”

  67. Sweet little candy sockies!
    How’s this for motivation: if you don’t meet your deadline, you have to get a job.

  68. Writing is a brutal business. I only do a very un-creative and boring sort of writing for my job, and I imagine I go through less than one tenth of the agony a creative writer goes through (someone else tells me what to write about, gives me an office and hours and pays me every week unless I fail to write anything at all, which sometimes backfires but makes life somewhat less stressful). Anyway, I’m sorry. You’ll get there, and we both know that, but we’re also both experienced enough to know that it might suck a bit more before you do, and it’s a hell of a lot easier to say “you’ll get there” when it’s not you who has to do it.
    This might help you remember that it’s not just you
    I particularly like the one about the blank page being god’s way of telling us how hard it is to be god.
    The only downside to the paycheck is that I can’t really get away with knitting while I’m thinking–I have to look busy…

  69. aaaahhh … word count.
    Get up before everyone else in the house, let’s say five a.m. (you’ll need to go to sleep by ten or you’ll be REALLY mad!) and re-read what you have so far with a legal pad in hand. Although five a.m. seems kind of sadistic, your early morning, unclouded brain, has a lot more going for it than we give it credit for.
    When I get to that ‘not writing place’ either the story is stuck, mildly broken, or I’ve forgotten what the heck I’m talking about. Take as many notes as you can. After the morning thing with the family, take the legal pad and go and sit in your outdoor office (park) with the socks. Glance at the legal pad from time to time. knit. glance. knit. Don’t schedule any ‘real writing’ for the day .. and possibly the next day while your mind mulls things over. After that, go with one of the above ideas where your writing time is a scheduled two or three hour block every day and after that, you’re not ALLOWED to write. That ought to anger your inner-anti-authoritarian-13-year-old.
    And, hey, you can always come over to ‘pens and needles’ on Ravelry for others in your predicament. We’ll have another writing challenge firing up on the 15th of September (yes, it involves a daily word count, eek)

  70. i would have thought anyone who writes about knitting, knitting too much, meditating on knitting, knitting, making disparaging remarks about crochet :P, knitting, knitting, spinning, knitting NEEDS to be knitting amongst their writing in order to channel their words?
    Its only when you’re writing something completely removed from yarn (i.e. Likely changes in foreign policy or Standard Operating Procedure for the Operation of Damp Trucks) that abstinence from repeated shots of alpaca under the desk should be enforced.
    Knit away!

  71. i would have thought anyone who writes about knitting, knitting too much, meditating on knitting, knitting, making disparaging remarks about crochet :P, knitting, knitting, spinning, knitting NEEDS to be knitting amongst their writing in order to channel their words?
    Its only when you’re writing something completely removed from yarn (i.e. Likely changes in foreign policy or Standard Operating Procedure for the Operation of Dump Trucks) that abstinence from repeated shots of alpaca under the desk should be enforced.
    Knit away!

  72. I’m a writer, too, and I am trying to get really rocking on my new novel since I’m no longer employed as a regular family humor columnist for a magazine. TODAY, I missed making my word count because, get this, my daughter (6) got a bead stuck in her ear that required a trip to the doctor to remove. I came home, wrote all about it on my blog and ended up still managing not to get any, um, work done. Or knitting since I was so rattled, I took my dpns but um, no sock.
    I love your socks, though, and luckily enough, you’re a fast enough knitter for both of us…

  73. when is the deadline
    could you talk the words to someone who
    could type them for you -i have some words you could have -if you have a copy of mary jane clarks book mystery has knitting shop and teacher you just might not want to go out knitting for a while tis a good one how many words could we all send and get this book written

  74. This is totally weird. I just wrote a whole blog post about how and why creativity doesn’t just happen when I want it to. Plus, as a writer, there are whole days when the muse just doesn’t show up–and I have to write anyway. Good luck!
    here’s the address in case you need alternative thoughts on this:

  75. Ghirardelli , Intense Dark, Twilight Delight, 72% Cacao
    Knit Joe some dark brown socks while writing/fuming, they won’t show the chocolate finger marks as much.

  76. You obviously have the “self”-discipline thing down. However, I might be scared of your concept of “discipline”. Discipline is done out of love. Punishment usually precipitates anger. Ditch the angst, enjoy knit night & enjoy writing. Life is short. Knit, socialize, work, dance, love, rest, create. I so love the socks and, yes, reading what you write.

  77. Um, hello?? That second cuff was NOT wet blocked by way of tipping canoe, was it? Seems to me you need another vacation, and another case of beer, in order to do the job properly!
    Seeing as I’m right over here in Maine, and as my hubby is a Canadian bred-and-born citizen (never mind that he moved here when he was 8, he never got a green card), and seeing as how us Mainers love our beer almost as much as you do “ov-ah the bord-ah”, I could certainly help out by grabbing my canoe and beer and dunking it for you.
    (of course our lakes are still fairly warm, and the beer cooler still very cold, because I’m lead to believe that cold beer helps!)

  78. Are you giving yourself time to come to the Kitchnener-Waterloo Knitters Fair this weekend? How many words would that take? Actually, I think it should be considered word time – it is knitting related – you never know when a word might strike you surrounded by so much knitterly goodness?

  79. Oh darlin’–you’ll fry your precious gray matter that way… no… get up, clean the house, go talk to friends, take the daughters shopping… the more you do that you enjoy, the bigger the pool of experience you have to write from. If you find you’re sitting in front of the computer screen and doing nothing but knitting and fuming, you’ll be angrier at yourself for missing out on life! (Stephen King said “Art is a support system for life–not the other way around.” Wiser words were never spoken–especially for work-obsessed writers whose hobby is their life!!!)

  80. Stephanie,
    I have a sock knitting question (to purposely distract you from writing and word counts and all those other self-inflicted rules). Do you seriously do a gauge swatch before knitting a sock?
    I start knitting thinking, “these will fit someone (hopefully me).” But maybe because I have not knitted with every kind of sock yarn available I figure, “how different can they be, really…this is the same size yarn as I made before.”
    (This is yet another one of those things that make the knitting goddesses laugh hysterically, isn’t it?)
    Bottom line is: I’m disappointed with myself and yet know that someone will benefit from these really cool socks. Any advice?
    Love the current STR you’re working on. Gorgeous colors!

  81. Stephanie, what kind of camera do you have? This is the second time that I received the STR package and their photo made me go “ho hum,” but when I see your photos I go “wowza! Gotta start my sock!”
    Unless it’s the Northern Light from Toronto?

  82. Hm. Lots of good suggestions in the comments. I think I have to fall on the side that’s pointing out creativity usually doesn’t do too well at being forced. It’s not like you’re a reporter giving a factual account of something, for instance. Whole different kind of writing. Not any easier, but different. With the fuming bit, I’d be afraid the creative brain cells would up and strike! We know writing is more blood, sweat and tears than beer and skittles, but at least you might want to turn it around and concentrate on time spent rather than word count. Just think of all those writers who spend several hours and only end up with a paragraph sometimes…then suddenly spend a day turning out several pages.
    Or for a rather clumsy metaphor, the donkey and carrot approach is on a different tangent than the methods you’d use coaxing a wild animal to let you get close enough to photograph it, y’know?

  83. If for some bizarre reason you have never read Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird, I recommend you go and get it right now. It is absolutely brilliantly funny. And it is about writing. Her best concept is the “shitty first draft”. but she has lots to say about how you write.

  84. I love deadlines… I especially love the whooshing noise they make as they pass by….
    The socks are outstanding!!! do we think that perhaps we could persuade the Blue Moon folks to publish the pattern?

  85. Steph, you need to go to Knit Night. You might get the one-and-only-bar-none-the-best idea for a post, a chapter…or dare say, a book. Your publisher would like a new book. Okay, so you have to finish this one first, because writing books is not like WIP in knitting.
    Wait…forget bar none. Have a beer for me instead.
    There. Feel better? If not, go stymie the squirrel some more

  86. For someone who doesn’t want to do her work, you are one tough disciplinarian! In the end, you always meet your deadlines :)I sure hope the 2nd sock isn’t jealous that the 1st one got blocked in the French River!

  87. Okay, serious attempt to be helpful:
    Words run in a circuit, like electricity. They go in your eyes, and out your hands. You need to refill your supply; read something.
    I find it most useful to read technical information related to the writing topic. I read science when I’m writing SF, and folklore when I’m writing fantasy. For the writing of knitting humor, I’d think anything related to the history and execution of fine knitting would be useful. (Please don’t throw me into that briar patch!)
    And yes, as has been pointed out already, Knit Night definitely counts as research.

  88. Remember, you can’t write if you are not inspired, no matter how long you sit there. And what you reluctantly churn out could be crap. If going to knitting night is inspirational (obviously), then you must go. The writing will follow. And you’ll love it!

  89. Years ago I worked in a bead store. My job was to make jewelry. I worked for a mentally unbalanced woman who didn’t allow me to take breaks. I was just supposed to be creative all day. Eight hours straight with 20-30 minutes begrudgingly given for lunch. “I’m not paying you to stand around and talk!” I learned that creativity isn’t something you can turn on and off like a faucet.
    Give yourself a break. Literally. Don’t stand overself saying “ok, be creative NOW!” That won’t make ideas flow. I left that job never wanting to look at another bead. Be nice to yourself. I think we all want you to enjoy writing. If you’re not enjoying it, you’re not doing it right. Like knitting, right?

    This will make your mind (and body) work better. You will find inspiration and focus when you are doing your yoga. Exercise is right up there with food and parenting as those things all proper folks are supposed to do, well the parenting only if you have something to parent.

  91. Bee-yoo-tiful socks!! Wow!!
    I think having yarn in prison is less of an issue than having the needles. You should be more thankful for the needles. πŸ™‚

  92. Lovely socks – but….I think you need an afternoon off – maybe you could give yourself an afternoon of to do something nice that would help with the writing – doing stuff, meeting people checking out the LYS then ‘reward’ yourself with twice as many words tomoorrs, chocolate, wine and flowers!

  93. At the risk of seeming petulant, I’m going to ask if you could possibly make another swing by the San Francisco Bay Area before the end of your tour? I know you were in Petaluma a couple of months ago, but that was literally a week before I started reading and then got utterly addicted to your blog, and I was so sad that I missed you! You’ve inspired me to try so many different things, and I’d like to say thanks. πŸ™‚ Plus, maybe you’d get a Golden Gate Bridge washcloth out of it…?

  94. Hey! Love how the socks are looking!! Love the colour! And you know.. sometimes you need to step away from the desk for inspiration…. and I don’t see how cutting out Yoga(calming) or knitting circle(inspiration from friends) would help your inspiration anyways.

  95. My inner writer child is about 6. She needs to go out and play on a regular basis. Otherwise she sits at the computer, pissed off, and won’t do anything. I’ve found that taking her out to play will help her be more creative and she/I’ll be more productive in the long run.
    Do any of us really respond well to chaining ourselves to the desk?
    Lovely socks!!!

  96. Steph, take some time off! I know you have a deadline, but your brain needs a break! Go play! You’ll come back to your writing, energized and full of words and you’ll double your word count–I promise.
    That colorway is really pretty. πŸ™‚

  97. Slacker.
    We’re on to your Cunning Plan: you say you’re indulging in unproductive self-deprivation so we’ll chorus that you need recreation THEREBY allowing your contrary nature to rebel against us instead of itself, hence getting the work done.
    I don’t say it isn’t brilliant, I’m just saying that tracing its twists and turns is exhausting. How about something straightforward, like a beer? (Me, I’d say try No Knitting In the Office — bet that would jerk a knot in its tail.)

  98. I think you need to let yourself out for knitting nights for sure — just think of all the great book “material” you might be missing!

  99. gorgeous socks! remember that scene in the shining where jack goes crazy and types “all work and no play makes jack a dull boy” that’s what I’m envisioning here. go knit with your friends – you may get some inspiration or some fodder for your writing!

  100. Other ideas (you’ve probably thought of but here goes):
    ~ try writing with your other hand – pen and paper. That really let’s the kid out and you can see what is going on.
    ~ find out how other humorists (even stand-up comedians) meet their deadlines.
    ~ join a writer’s group.
    You’re not alone! Good luck!!

  101. Zouk? Ah. A little Google-fu, et voi la! Well, you have always said that knitting is a finger-dance. Now I know what kind! I’m glad to hear that your fingers can do a happy dance when your head doesn’t want to play.
    Sady, I’m no help you with the deadline thing. I can’t get motivated to do what I need to until the last minute, either. Best of luck finding your way, Hon.

  102. oh, yeah—- second the comment recommending “Bird by Bird”, by Ann Lamott. Lots of great *practical and usable* advice on writing, and it’s moving and funny, too. I’m guessing you’ve read it already, but if not, run don’t walk to your local book store.

  103. Wasn’t the purpose of the family taking on the caretaker position at the hotel in The Shining so that the writer husband would have the time to write? Do remember how badly that backfired?

  104. That reminds me of the Martha Grimes novel, “The Horse You Rode In On,” where the writer puts a loud alarm clock in a filing cabinet across the room and then chains herself to her desk until she’s written her set number of words. If she doesn’t get it done in the alotted time, the alarm clock goes off like a bomb. Maybe that’s a little extreme – your method is definitely more humane!

  105. Stephanie, you got it all wrong! When you go to knit night, you are not playing, you will be doing market research, getting feedback from your readers, finding inspiration for future books. Come on, you are writing about the fun of knitting, why kill the fun out of your knitting life?

  106. Stephanie, please use your powers to make the yarn and pattern available to the general public. I feel desperate to knit those socks!

  107. yeah, I suck at self discipline too. Witness that I’m reading your blog rather than doing the budget work I need for a 2:00 meeting.

  108. Oh man. When I try to set rules like that, I immediately say “You can’t make me”! (Even though, of course, I am talking to myself. ) Apparently I respond badly to imposed rules even when I am doing the imposing. Recently though, someone (my shrink, as a matter of fact) put it a different way, that is actually (gradually) becoming more effective: I ask myself “Have you done what you promised yourself you would do?” While I still do procrastinate, that one tends to get me up and doing.

  109. You can’t force genius. And you never know from where inspiration for that next chapter will come. Since you’re a writer about knitting (and life) I think you should allow yourself to go to Knit Nite. The feedback from your friends would ease any worries about your next wonderful book!
    And allow me to echo SharonF to thank you for letting us know it’s okay to bring our knitting wherever we go. I’m off to a company picnic, knitting planner in hand to plot out the autumn knitting. No actual knitting this time, because while I may have fallen in love with Noro wools, and have 3 different sweaters in production, knitting anything outdoors today when it’s 90 degrees and 90% humidity is just nuts!

  110. I am a terrible procrastinator. I used to feel guilty a lot of the time for not being more organized and ahead of schedule (especially in my undergrad and masters degrees). Then, one day I decided to look at a “reality” of sorts: All along, even though I wasted time, I never let a project go unfinished, the final result was always good and no one else but me ever complained about what I submitted. So I decided to stop being hard on myself and accept that I get s&*! done in the 11th hour, everytime, and that’s just the way I operate. It’s actually much more pleasant now. I do think there is room in this world for those of us who only put out under pressure. πŸ™‚

  111. So…since you write about knitting, shouldn’t you consider Knit Night research?????????
    (Seems like it would be sabotaging your writing to miss it…just my opinion…as a writer…)Give up TV or housework..but not KNit Night!!

  112. Just started reading your blog, love it!
    Ahhh, I need a word count goal, but I will make it small.

  113. I have given quite a lot of thought you your predicament and I think you are being too hard on yourself and, perhaps, you don’t know all the reasons that you want you to stick to your schedule that you made for yourself.
    So, if you have a couple minutes, perhaps you should sit down with yourself. Perhaps initiate contact by touching yourself gently but briefly on the forearm. Tell yourself just how impressed you are with your accomplishments and how much you appreciate your hard work. Be sure to let yourself know the goodness that lays in store for you if you stick to your goals and ask yourself if you can agree to continue with the current goals in order to achieve your goals. Be willing to modify your method a bit if you think it is a good idea. Perhaps bribe yourself with promises of yarn. I mean, you are a rational person and you will probably understand and feel a little more affirmed once you know exactly how much you depend on you.
    Everyone needs a pat on the back now and then.
    Good luck from one of the “I can’t wait until Stephanie finishes another book” club members.

  114. My DH often has similar dilemmas. He’s a software engineer, and while computer code is a far cry from knitting humor, it’s a very creative, inventive process that often can’t be forced. He can make himself sit there for only so long, before he gets so stuck that he can’t make progress.
    Then he takes a walk. Usually 15 minutes does it, and he’s got fresh ideas and is ready to go attack the bug or design dilemma again.
    So, maybe you could trying just sitting down at the laptop to write, and then take a walk and knit when you can’t type.
    The only way I’ve ever really made good progress with writing is doing timed writing exercises. I sit down, set a timer for 10-20 minutes, and just write. Whether at the computer or with a pen and paper, I write–constantly–until the timer goes off. Sometimes it’s good stuff, sometimes it’s complete drivel. The trick is just to practice getting ideas out of one’s head and onto the page.
    Best of luck. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

  115. Oh,I don’t call it procrastination. I call it PDS, Procrastination DiSorder. Sounds much better than laziness er procrastination. I suffer from from PDS. LOL Go knit and eat the chocolate.

  116. Why in world are you held to such deadlines? You are so talanted, so in demand, that we should be able to wait, until you, have the time, on your schedule, to put out another book. Your life should be fabulous, not stressed! Tell you publisher. We’ll wait.

  117. “I am apparently never too annoyed to knit.”
    LOL I channeled some anger I had into plying a whole recycled sweater into 200+ yds of lovely 3-ply merino the other night. *stomp* *stomp* *stomp* on the treadles.

  118. Since you use so much material about your knitting outings in your books wouldn’t going to Knit Night count as research?

  119. Balance for a writer is aspired to through lots and lots of caffienation!!! (Knitter and writer here) Whether it be tea or chocholate or COFFEE (my fav. drug of choice) balance is always striven for but rarely achieved. Write on and knit on!!! Good luck with the word counts.

  120. Great Sock Recovery! I am so proud of you! I actually was face to face with you at Rhinebeck last year I believe while you were doing a book signing for those purchasing your book. I didn’t know who you were and what the book was about and looked at you , smiled and walked away! Bummer! I just love you! You are the best! Hope you are going to be at Rhinebeck this year. I promise I will not walk away!
    BTW – what is the difference between STR light, med and heavy weight? I have the Medium weight in two colors – not sure what it means ????
    Thanks for your site!

  121. You are such a creative writer; I can’t believe you ever doubt yourself. And, I can’t quite believe that you are tackling another book so quickly. What is there left to say about knitting that you have not already said, and said brilliantly! Your blog posts entertain many everytime you write one! and we can’t wait to see what next comes off your pen!! Blog, or book!!!!

  122. Me, Myself and I are so empathetic and we loves your sock creations. We send happy-writing vibes so that you may trade stitches for words and get to trade in that carrot for real time with friends!

  123. 9. No 3 hour flights with guys who want to know if I am lonely without my husband. (I know this one is mostly luck, but it’s so gross I want to try and avoid it anyway.)
    This just happened to me; the guy actually took my hand! Ick! That’s what we get for being friendly, full-of-positive-energy types.
    I would recommend earplugs (look for ones with a decibel reduction of at least 29). “I have really sensitive ears. Bye now”.
    Second to that, the flight attendant could arrange a swap, and it shouldn’t even cost you socks.

  124. New to this Blog, can anyone suggest a exceptionally soft yard to use for a snuggle blanket for my 10th g’baby due in Nov.

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