Wanted: Boring Hobby

Wednesday, November 11, 2015
I've been writing an essay for an anthology...or rather not writing it. Swimming is the theme and I was drowning. It seemed the more I thought about it the worse things got. The few ideas I did get were so bad. And the few I started to halfheartedly write quickly fell to pieces.

Thankfully my day job saved me. I work for a local newspaper that, among other things, publishes the honor roll lists for the sixteen school districts that are located in the paper's reading area. That's close to 50 schools and a LOT of names. Since report cards were handed out this week, the lists are arriving in my email inbox. Mostly, it's cut and paste getting all those names into the Honor Roll template. But some schools have their lists in Excel documents and I end up retyping them in a more compatible format. It's an easy but boring job. The lists are already alphabetized so it feels like one of the exercises we used to do in high school typing class (yes, typing class - I'm that old!). I barely half to think about it, my fingers just do all the work on auto pilot.This is a good thing because, while part of my mind is occupied with retyping, most of my brain is free to wander. And yesterday my brain wandered to swimming. Successfully I might add!

We've all heard the advice to switch writing projects if you hit a block. But I've found that Honor Roll lists are just as helpful. If you are not lucky enough to have hundreds of star students' names to type can I suggest a hobby. Not a thinking hobby...no oil painting, piano playing or chess. What you need is a repetitive task that will take up just a small part of your brain activity, leaving the rest to wander. Perhaps Solitaire, crocheting, shooting baskets. If it wasn't getting chilly here in Pennsylvania I would suggest fishing.

Naturally, you are all sworn to secrecy. We wouldn't want my boss to know I only use half my brain at work :)

One another note, Honor Roll lists are a great place to find names for your characters!


Judy H said...

I, too, had to take typing the 8th grade. I was devastated I couldn't take Mr. Wilbanks art class. Then I entered the real world and so glad I had a year of typing behind me. I was fast and accurate and loved by the computer guys in college where I picked up extra money by key punching (yes, I'm that old!).

Mary Jo said...

Jodi - this is funny! I do my best writing at my day job as a Sr Admin Asst. Shh! And, I also remember typing class..sigh

Carol said...

Ha ha! I recently joined a writing community, and volunteered to index a set (huge number) of posts based on subject. This motivates me! I guess I'll get names of characters, and so many people's experiences to derive from...

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