Christine here. While writing a newsletter issue, I work pretty hard on the project. I use a lot of self-denial to motivate myself. I make myself finish a diagram before I’m allowed to get up and go get a soda. I can’t make dinner until the next article is drafted. I can’t eat jujyfruits until I finish braiding a project. And NO MORE CHOCOLATE until the newsletter is done.
You have perhaps noticed that my best motivating factor for work is Food. After working on the newsletter for about a month intensely, you’d think I’d lose weight for all the self-denial that I use as a stimulant to keep working, but unfortunately that’s not the case. I tend to make up for any losses in the post-newsletter bingeing that I allow myself to indulge in.
I have found that I move through several stages of post-newsletter-release life. First there’s Persistent Anxiety. After having driven myself crazy with working long hours trying to Get The Darned Thing Done, you’d think I’d feel relief. But that doesn’t start right away: I’m still so keyed up from a combination of caffeine, scratchy eyes from staring at the laptop, and the mental tricks to goad myself into working… that my frazzled feeling hangs on, unwilling to relinquish its kitten-claws from my psyche. With no newsletter to work on, I wander around the house in a guilty/nervous state, certain that the website has crashed, I released the draft of the newsletter instead of the real thing, or that Dropbox has yet again expired all the linkages without my say-so. I have the general persistent feeling that I still should be working on …. something.
After Persistent Anxiety comes Deliberate Sloth. I am finished, I am sitting on the couch, I am watching TV, I don’t care that no laundry’s been done in 3 weeks or that dishes are piled in the sink. I don’t care that my family hasn’t had a home-cooked meal in a week: if you’re hungry, go order a G—D—- pizza. I am sitting here and I am not moving. Get your father to run you someplace.
After that there is the Sleep Binge. I lie in bed and caress my pillow. I stay in pajamas with pillow-creases etched into my face. I get up and blink a lot over my coffee, then go back to bed for a nap. I even dream about sleeping. This goes on for a day or two.
Then there is Entitled Self-Indulgence. I go to the only bookstore left within half an hour’s drive and spend decadent hours perusing the romance, sci-fi, and mystery detective novels. After working so hard on the newsletter, I deserve to buy a few books for myself. Then I move on to serious chocolate consumption. I deserve chocolate. I’m fairly indiscriminate in my cravings: Almond Joy, Hershey’s Kisses, and squares of gold-wrapped Godiva chocolates, all very small items temptingly available at checkout counters where if I add them to my purchases, no one will notice and somehow that means the calories are nullified. Then I usually end up at the office supply store, where I stroll aimlessly through aisles looking at pens, pencils, ever-more complex datebooks that will miraculously help me organize my life, and I usually find an excuse to purchase something. The office supply store is right next to the pet store, where I go drool wistfully at the puppy windows, especially at dachshund puppies. I look at the movie schedule for the first time in a month, and try to twist my son’s arm into going to an action sci-fi with me, while he informs me disdainfully that he is NOT going to the MOVIES with me EVER AGAIN since I hog all the popcorn.
After that I usually return to normal.
Summary: Newsletter–>Persistent Anxiety –>Deliberate Sloth–>Sleep Binge–>Entitled Self-Indulgence–>Normal.