Monday, September 30, 2013

Mindless Munching

Oh, man. I just did it again. Without so much as a single conscious thought, my hand crept into my second desk drawer on the right and came out with a hunk of chocolate, which proceeded directly to my lips.

And now here I am, chewing away, like a cow with her cud, before I even realize that I'm mindlessly munching. Again.

It doesn't matter that this particular blob is not merely my regular chocolaty fare from my not-so-hidden stash - Snickers or Cadbury or Dove or on a really good day, Godiva. Nope. This particular chunk is from the seductive bar of expensive Swiss chocolate I brought back from my recent European vacation.

All the more reason I ought to be cognizant of every minuscule morsel I consume, right? I should savor every smooth, delicate molecule. Not just scarf it down while my attention is on my computer screen. Right?


So why am I now reaching for another pawful?

ARGGH! Here comes that familiar self-incriminating Saint Paul thing whomping on my psyche:

"I don't understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don't do it ... I know perfectly well what I'm doing is wrong ... but I can't help myself" (Romans 7: 15 -17, NLT).

 Paul must have been a choco-athlete like me. I just know it. He didn't want to admit it because it was probably a big no-no to scarf cocoa in ancient Jewish culture. He understands me far too well not to be. And you, too, writer buddy! It may not always be chocolate, but mindless munching seems to be a universal problem with writers - I hear them grumbling about it to each other all the time at writing conferences.

If you've written for more than a week, you know the system. Write a sentence. Chew while you think about the next sentence. Mastication spurs imagination. Write another sentence. Chew some more. Go back and rewrite the first sentence. Ah, you know this one's a winner. Chew madly in celebration as you type. Repeat process. Finish the page and finally notice the empty Frito bag in your lap. Upturn the bag of crumbs into your mouth to get one good final chew so you can start the next chapter and fetch another bag.

Someone else who understands me is humorist/author Karen Scalf Linamen. I remember reading in one of her books (can't recall if it was Hand Over the Chocolate and No One Will Get Hurt or Chocolatherapy) about the time she decided to train herself to stop mindlessly munching while writing. So she filled her usual go-to candy dish with doggie treats and placed it high above her computer desk so that she would have to stand to reach it.

She soon became engrossed in fabricating her new chapter. The first time she came to, she was holding a doggie treat to her lips and opening her mouth. Ack! She threw it on the ground with a little scream. The little brown bone must have fallen out of the bowl because she had no memory of standing to retrieve it. Yucko. She would have to be more aware of earthquakes and wind gusts in her writing studio.

The next time her consciousness emerged, her hand was reaching into an empty candy dish as she stood chewing something extremely crunchy. It tasted faintly of chicken. And to add to her horror, the piece on the floor was missing. But her little dog had been outside all day. 

So tell me writerly friends, do you, too, struggle with mindless munching ... the chocholaty variety, Purina, or otherwise?