07 December 2008

Vice or nice? And how to know the difference.

We're entering the final stretch of the academic year. Some of my friends and colleagues are already 50%+ done with grading. I'm ahead...for me. Which is to say that I have already graded and handed back several sets of papers. But I still have miles to go, and many things on my plate. How's that for a mixed metaphor?

Anyhow, I got started thinking about vices, and wondering if there's anything good about them. For example, I like to eat an unseemly number of clementines every day. But I usually begin consuming them en masse during cold season, and they really help. So the vice isn't really a vice.

But what about other vices, like being too much of a perfectionist? (GUILTY!) I know that it's a vice, and that it may some day give me an ulcer, but for now it really helps with attention to detail.

Procrastination? (GUILTY!) It helps me focus because there's absolutely no alternative once I start working.

Occasional mild jealousy of others who are doing better? (GUILTY!) I'm not talking about schadenfreude here, just your everyday, "Aww shucks. I'm just going to have to try harder. As soon as I finish eating these clementines and scolding myself."

This post may seem like it's rationalizing, and perhaps it is. But I can't start grading right now, so I have to write something. Maybe you do too.

So what are your vices, and how do they help or hinder your work, creative or otherwise? Do you have recommendations for vices we may want to try, if interested in swapping?

4 comments:

Leslie said...

Strong hot black tea. No milk, cream, sweetener of any sort.

Lots of it.

The day the news broke that tea is actually good for you was a little like Christmas.

I drink too much tea in cold weather. It's the easiest way to warm up and involves less hot water than baths.

Baths. I'd take 3 or 4 a day. Great place to read and think and be warm. Not so good for the environment. Or the electric bill.

I share procrastination. I'm basically an unreformed journalist who can't do anything without a deadline and that makes me a bit of an adrenaline junkie. Bad.

Penultimatina said...

That's what I need. TEA! And more of it. Thank you!

Collin Kelley said...

Creamy JIF eaten directly from the jar with a spoon.

~ said...

Hi Mary,

I think it's good to have a few vices, otherwise you wouldn't be interesting and life would be too boring because there was nothing to do better. As I've said, imperfect people are my favorite kinds.

But as you wrote, some vices actually have benefits. I tend to lean into that perfectionist and procrastination category and I know while there are some negative benefits to it, there are definitely some positives as well.

So to your questions--

So what are your vices, and how do they help or hinder your work, creative or otherwise?

Self-doubt & second guessing-- I think it's more of hinderance than a help, however, it does make me a stronger editor of my work when I'm not on the super-self-doubt mode, which just basically has me throwing poems into the garbage.

I don't recommend trying this vice, but here are some others I have that I enjoy--

I have a piece of chocolate every day after lunch. I highly recommend this vice.

I will sleep in while my family is up and feel no guilt about it. Another vice I recommend, though you can't do it all the time or it becomes neglectful ;-) but on weekends, go for it.

Staying up too late. A terrible vice. But when the family is all tucked in, I can usually write my best work, even better than during the day. The negative results in the vice before this one of sleeping in, but the positive is that the energy at night is so much easy to write in and I tend to get stronger more honest work.

Since I seem to have your vices already, we can't swap, but I'm happy to share.

Oh and my word verification "di stud" - why thank you!