Saturday, September 8, 2007

Bad Habits

by Kirsten Scott

I wasn't sure how to follow up my blog about underpants, but then I stumbled into work Friday morning, only to see...my doom.

The donut fairy had arrived.

Now, the donut fairy isn't particularly reliable, but boy is he adored. With a single stroke of his wand, he severs any tenuous grip I had on my diet. Coffee and a donut? Friday morning? Are you kidding?

I don't have a chance.

I've got plenty of bad habits. I bite my nails (cuticles, too). I forget to check my voicemail and irritate my husband who left me a VERY IMPORTANT MESSAGE. I spend too much money on clothes. And I slow down my first three chapters with backstory.

Yes, writers have all sorts of bad habits. We use too many adverbs, forget to give our characters unique voices, recycle plot lines from other books we've written (or read)...sometimes even (horrors!) dangle our modifiers!

I think identifying bad habits is a significant step to beating them. Knowing my backstory problem, I usually let myself go in a first draft, and then return later and ruthlessly excise at least half of what I've written. I know better than to try to save it. It was fun, even necessary to write, but it must go.

I haven't learned how to avoid the donut fairy, but I do know that I'm less likely to have a donut if I had a good breakfast. So I scarf down my bran flakes, steel my courage, and try to resist the bounty.

This is just my way of fighting, but I know there are others.


So tell me--what are your bad habits, writerly or otherwise? Can you share any tricks of the trade to fight the adverb fairy, the Starbucks fairy, or most importantly, the donut fairy?

36 comments:

Anna Campbell said...

Kirsten, that's a great photo! Where did you get it? Is that little girl yours? Gorgeous!

Oh, bad habits? Where do I start? Perhaps I should list the FEW I don't actually have. I don't bite my fingernails. I don't slam the car door (one of my father's pet hates). Um... Trying hard to come up with another one here that I DON'T do... I don't turn the pages over to mark my place in a book.

Now for the fun stuff. When I let my hair down, I get very noisy and extremely giggly. I get salt and fat cravings (hmm, just what a nice potato chip or 100 will cure!). I clean my teeth wandering around the house although I've never worked out why that's a bad habit. People tell me it is. I definitely spend too long doing emails! Oh, and I can pun to drive anyone into the ground. Oh, dear, this list is getting depressing! I'd better stop and go and do some work. Desk-retion is the better part of valor, you know! See what I mean about puns?

Aunty Cindy said...

YEE HAW!!! LOOK OUT BELOW! (Aunty C. swings in through the open window)

The Queen of Bad Habits is BACK!!! At least until my next techno disaster... SHEESH! Being unable to log into cyberspace for a few days felt like I'd died and gone to... Well, purgatory at the very least, but I digress (one of my bad habits).

I know this will be hard for my bandita buddies and friends who hang out in the lair to believe, but most of your old Aunty's bad habits fall into the over-indulgence category. Adverbs, chocolate, hunks... guilty, Guilty, and GUILTY, I'm afraid! I like to think it's all part of my charm!

AC
SO HAPPY to be back in the lair

Anna Campbell said...

Welcome back, AC!!! We've missed you. And wherever it comes from, your charm is abundant! Don't change!

AndreaW said...

I used to bite my fingernails when I was younger, but now I just pick at the skin on the sides. And what a glorious trait to pass down to my son. When my husband asks him to stop, he says, "But Mommy does it." *sigh*

~Andrea

Christie Kelley said...

I have found the way to stop biting my nails and picking at the skin on the side--acrylic nails. They don't have to be really long but you can't bite them and you can't pick at the skin with them. I love them! They also help if you get slices at the top of your thumbs in the winter. I don't know why but they do.

So one bad habit gone! Now if I could only get rid of the adverbs in my books.

Stacy S said...

I smoke, that's my bad habit. I need to quit but haven't gotten to that place yet.

Kirsten said...

Anna, I simply can't believe you have bad habits. Nope. Can't do it. ;-) I find your puns fabulously entertaining. And I love noisy and giggly. Too of my favorite words. San Francisco will be a blast!

As for the pictures, I usually pull from morguefile.com or Yotophoto--two sites where you can grab royalty-free pictures. My little girl is EVEN CUTER than that one, but I've always heard not to post pictures of your actual family on line. I did take pictures of her adorable TOENAILS for this blog, because she bites them (yes, her toenails, sigh...she is only four, but still!) but they didn't come out too well. Maybe next time!

Kirsten said...

AC, we missed you and every one of your bad habits!! Adverbs, chocolate and hunks, three of my favorite things! Now I'm wondering if there's a way to combine those into one glorious night of indulgence...mmmmm....thinking here...

Kirsten said...

Andreaw--interesting you should mention your son. My daughter started biting her nails (fingers and toes!) when she was two, where my son has never expressed an interest in this less than attractive habit. So I think we're genetically programmed to bite. It's not a bad habit, its OUR NATURE! HAHA!

Kirsten said...

Christie--I'm so glad you brought this up because I've always wondered--can you type with those things on? I know I bite less if I keep my nails polished, but I've never tried the acrylic ones. Definitely something to muse over...

Kirsten said...

Stacy Stacy Stacy (shakes head sadly)...dahling, what can the Banditas do to GET you in the right place to quit? Shall we send you packs of nicotine gum? What if we become your quit-smoking support group? Everytime you consider reaching for a cig, you post a comment instead! Seriously, huge hugs to you over this. I know it is insanely hard to quit. I hope you get to a better place soon!

AndreaW said...

Oh my gosh, Kirsten, my daughter started biting her toenails when she was two, also! Not her fingernails, just toenails. Luckily, she doesn't anymore. LOL

Kirsten said...

Does that mean there's hope for my little one!? How old was she when she stopped?

AndreaW said...

LOL! She only did it for about 6 months or so (she's 3 1/2 now) and then stopped when I started painting her toenails. Have you tried that?

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Stacy S, I can relate...I am a smoker too and even though it is nasty and soooo unhealthy, I still smoke. I tried to quit so many times I lost count. That is my worst bad habit but there are so many more. I can pass on the sweets but I never met a potato chip I didn't like. Procrastination, (is that a habit or a personality trait?), rocking, (when I get tense I rock myself), twirling my hair, shaking my foot, (sometimes to the point of making my whole chair shake), I could go on and on but suffice it to say I am a creature of habit. Lots and lots of habits.

Trish Milburn aka Tricia Mills said...

It's very difficult for me to resist sweets. I have a humongous sweet tooth. I used to encounter the donut problem when I worked at my previous job, but now I only encounter it if I buy them.

Helen said...

I love chocolate and cake my fingernails are too hard to bite when I was young I used to try and bite my nails like everyone else did but to no avail thank heavens potato chips is another food I love. I really need to change my eating habits and get fit but I find that I really enjoy sitting down and reading with chocolate or chips getting fit would mean not sitting for long periods with a good book I will have to work on this.
Have Fun
Helen

Keira Soleore said...

Nutella... I can consume a quarter jar in one sitting. No wonder I resemble said jar.

Joan said...

Taking naps when I should be writing.

I DID however, resist a donut onslaught at work today. That darn box of Krispey Kremes sat on the desk ALL day until we pawned them off on a chaplain LOL.

Anna Campbell said...

Keira, you do NOT resemble a Nutella jar in any way, shape or form! The only similarity is that your contents are similarly appealing ;-)

Dianna and Helen, clearly we're sisters under the skin when it comes to a good potato chip. Yum! Dianna, loved your line about never meeting a potato chip you didn't like. Ditto. Except I'm obviously psycho because I then go ahead and kill my new friend in one munch!

Caren Crane said...

Doughnuts are fried evil! Especially Krispy Kreme, because they are the best. Who can pass when the "hot doughnuts now" sign is lit up? Who?!

I have found I can resist when a co-worker brings in Dunkin Donuts. They do nothing for me (maybe because they don't know how to spell "doughnut" and it looks like "do not" *g*). But a Krispy Kreme maple glazed or--Heaven forfend--a Tim Horton's!

Baked goods are definitely my downfall. I love them all. I am also a great baker, which makes it worse. Now my family wants me to bake things I can't resist eating. Ack!!

Kate Carlisle said...

Kirsten, I hate Fridays for that very reason! Donuts!! Evil nasty things, and they...know...my...name.

And don't get me started on potato chips. The Kettle chips, the thick ones with the ridges? OMG.

Wish I could help you, but I'm just another victim.

Aunty Cindy said...

MWAH!!!
Thanx for the welcome back everyone! Missed everyone in the lair too!

Just had to comment on the biting toenails habit... one of my dogs bites her toenails, even her dewclaws! Never seen anything like it, and I've had lots of dogs in my life. I asked the vet and she said, "Oh, she's probably just nervous." She doesn't SEEM nervous so who knows? But it IS nice not to have to trim her nails. If only my other dog would pick up the same habit! Her nails resemble bear claws and she FIGHTS the clipping with a strength and ferocity faaar beyond her size (17 lbs.)!

AC
who only bites her thumb nails

Kirsten said...

Andrea, we have painted the toenails a few times...maybe I just need to be more regular about it. I've also gotten cute little stickers to put on nails that I wear to work sometimes. I tell everyone it's for my daughter, but I really just love it myself. ;-)

hrdwrkdmom, I only smoked a few times in college (when I wanted to be dramatic and mournful, natch) but I can see how you'd get hooked in a hurry. I feel lucky I have asthma and wasn't able to do it without coughing a blue streak. I hope one of these times giving it up will stick...meanwhile, enjoy the potato chips! Yum!

Kirsten said...

Trish, I think they should consider donuts a job hazard. Then I could collect disability when they drive me insane!

Helen, sitting down with a book and a pile of chocolate? now that's positively decadent! I do most of my best reading on the exercise bike. It's the only way I can sit down for an uninterrupted stretch of time!

Kirsten said...

Keira, love, you crack me up! I think the Nutella jars are cute! Petite, round, huggable...

Joan, I am soooo impressed that you turned away from a box of Krispy Kreme. I would never EVER have had the willpower. Never. (Did I say never?)

Kirsten said...

Caren, I knew SOMEONE had to go all FANCY on us and put a bunch of 'u's and 'g's in a perfectly easy word like donut! Hmph! ;-) But I'm with you on the Krispy Kremes. Dunkin' Donuts are good, but really no substitute.

Kate, I guess we'll just be victims in this one together. Sigh.

Kirsten said...

AC, only you would have a dog that trims her own nails!! I wish our dog did that! But weird, yes. Very weird.

As for your other beast, you know the little dogs are always the toughest. I would never mess with a Shih Tzu. A lab? No problem. But those little dogs...look out.

jo robertson said...

Andrea, so funny about the child biting her toenails. My granddaughter did the same thing. My philosophy is they outgrow it because it's hard to get that toe up to the mouth as they get older and their bones are less bendable LOL.

DONUTS!!!! Yikes, when Krispy Kreme went out of business I wanted a national day of mourning. jo

Cassondra said...

DONUTS? YOU have DONUTS?

I'm coming up there.

Oh, thank God Inara, that your day fell after mine. You're cheery. I'm dark and angsty.

BUT for posting about donuts, you are the DEVIL. Tomorrow is SUNDAY, and the local donut shop makes the best donuts in the world!

I'm a hopeless "cake" eater. Any cakey thing.

The worst are funnel cakes at the fair or the drive in (yes we still have one of those). And a year ago I went to the state fair to help with the honey booth in the exhibition hall. Outside the double doors was a booth that sold DEEP FRIED TWINKIES.

Okay, stay with me here. Apparantly deep frying changes a twinkie's inner nature. I would pay a LOT of money at a fancy restaurant to eat one of these (not out of a wax paper wrapper of course--presentation counts) but honest, it was the best thing I've ever put in my mouth.

Bad habits...sweets. Chocolate and cakey things.

Inara, you're the devil. I love you, but you ARE!

Anna Sugden said...

Savoury gets me over sweet every time ... crisps, popcorn *sigh*

Though I do have a soft spot for Cadbury's Chocolate Eclairs - chocolate-filled toffees. Oh and those Aero mint bubbles.

Keira - you do not resemble a Nutella jar ... but I will save you from yourself and take it away from you *grin*

Writing-wise ... where do I start? Too many 'that', 'just' and unclear pronouns.

Kirsten said...

Cassondra, believe me, I've TRIED to be dark and angsty. I sat on porches in college and smoked cigarettes and tried to will myself to become artistic and tormented. But I couldn't fight my nature...Hey, we can be the yin and the yan of the Banditas! What do you think?

As for deep fried twinkies and funnel cakes, now you're talking. I've never tried a fried twinkie, but deep frying does most things right. Sounds fabulous.

Kirsten said...

Jo, do you mean to tell me a Krispy Kreme near you went out of business? Now that IS a tragedy!

Anna, I have to purge my manuscripts of "just" and "that", too. I've got a list of unnecessary words and phrases to search and destroy--like sat down, stood up, that, just, very, and of course, anything that ends with -ly. I guess we've all got em, right? :-)

Suzanne Welsh said...

I have too many to count, but I do adore M&Ms! Not just any, but the new Mega M&Ms. They get me through many a problem with my stories. And then there is the polar opposite of the sweets...potato chips. Salt to counteract the sugar.

As for writing, I take on too many projects at once, but eventually it all gets done.

Keira Soleore said...

V.Anna "just," "all,' and "love are my betes noirs. I use those words all the time.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Anna, we must both be psycho then because my new friendships only last long enough to get them to my mouth too.
Kate, the kettle chips are sooo good, love the crunch.
Kirsten, I tried replacing the cigs with potato chips, I am now 50 lbs (most likely more) overweight and still smoke. NOT one of my more brilliant ideas.