Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Distractions

"Am Waldrand" - Henri Rousseau
Occasionally you'll see advice out there that writers have to keep to a schedule, have to write X words a day, have to write every single day because that's what it means to be a writer. That's what writers do. You're always supposed to power through, always keep moving, always push push push.

I'm sure this works for some writers. I am not one of them.

Not only do I simply not have time to write every day, I wouldn't even if I could. I can't write every day. I can barely write two days in a row.

Writing is tiring, it's hard, and it's easy to get burned out. After full a day of writing I feel physically and emotionally drained. It takes immense concentration. Coming up with new ideas is hard work. And blocking out all distractions takes \willpower.

But it's not just that. I need time to be distracted.

Distractions, the good kind, can come in many forms. They can be a friend who calls spontaneously one afternoon, a walk through the park that beautiful weather demands, a trip to a museum, or just a day doing absolutely nothing.

Sometimes you need to recharge. Sometimes you need to be inspired. Sometimes you need to just let yourself experience life.

I feel like as a writer it's so important to listen to yourself. Don't listen to the lazy you, the one who never wants to get anything done. But do listen to the Writer inside you (capital 'W'), who writes because life is so interesting and amazing.

You can't write if you don't live. You can't write good books if you're a writing machine who doesn't take time to live life fully outside of your work.

Some of the best inspiration comes precisely while you're distracted, while you're actively not thinking about writing and just noticing life.

Let yourself be distracted. It can be your most productive time.






92 comments:

Ava Jae said...

Really interesting post! I never really thought about the positive side of distractions before.

It's true that sometimes taking a break is the best inspiration. The thing to remember is to let the distraction take you, but not so far away that you can't (or won't) sit back down to write again.

cherie said...

Amen.

I'm one such person. Can't write for 8 hours straight. Besides, I go for quality, not quantity. So what if other people can write 10k in a day if most of it is crap?

Erin Harwood said...

I couldn't agree more. I run or go for walks and it always clears the fog. I'm ten times more productive when I take time for distraction (usually the healthy kind, like exercise).

Richard Gibson said...

Some of my most productive times (as in idea generation, phrase-making, thinking of research directions, etc., not the actual fingers-to-keyboard, of course) have been on walks with my dog.

Jayme said...

Thank you for this post. Personally, I go through periods of intense drafting followed by cycles of editing and thinking during which I write little if any content.

As other posters have already mentioned, I also do some of my best thinking while walking/doing other daily tasks. I think my subconscious works better on creative issues when they're not in the spotlight, but lurking in the background messing with the stage lighting! :)

Ted Fox said...

This post about distraction provided a good distraction from what I'm trying to write right now.

Whoa. Meta.

Sommer Leigh said...

This is so lovely and true. I go out and get myself distracted all the time because I tend to find answers to my problems when I stop looking for them. A friend of mine and I regularly just go "get out of the city" to some place not so far away and do things that are kind of weird and touristy. There's this great town only about an hour away from me that has more used book stores than gas stations and bars combined. It's like where all the used booksellers go to retire. A trip there alone can get me good and distracted enough to fix all my mental troubles. We also like to go check out the off-kilter tourist spots (there are a lot of them in most cities) like the birth place of so-and-so who invented something super obscure. Those are the best.

I do write most days, though I don't give myself a "You must write 12,000 words before lunch" deadline. I just write until I can't anymore. I think that all this writer advice is great to take and collect and put in nice nice storage boxes in your brain, but I think you have to take the right advice and apply it liberally only when necessary. Adverbs are bad! Except when they work perfectly. Write every day! Except when you're out adventuring upon life. Listen to writing advice from those who've already succeeded! Except when that advice tells you to quit.

chitrader said...

Thanks for the reminder, Nathan. The most important point to me is that writers need to be observers of life, need to get out in public and experience life, so we can better write about it.

Jeff Abbott said...

One of the best short essays ever on good distractions and bad distractions: http://www.ftrain.com/Followup.html

Rick Daley said...

I'm in your camp. As much as I would like to write every day, I have a day job, a wife, and two young kids (not to mention a neurotic schnauzer) on my hands. My my time is limited, to say the least.

You're also very right about pulling inspiration from life and its distractions. I like it when my kids do and say funny things that send me scribbling on any paper I can find. If I were glued to the keyboard I would miss these blogable moments (and precious time with my boys).

When I'm not actively writing, I always have a story rattling around in my head, though. Sometimes it's a symphony of characters and actions, sometimes a lone premise echoing in a vast empty chamber (my head is a lot like a vast empty chamber much of the time).

WORD VERIFICATION: rallafo. Rolling around liberally laughing at funny offerings. NOTE: The use of the word liberally is not meant to be taken politically.

@rjdaley101071
http://mydaleyrant.blogspot.com
THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS

Joy N. Hensley said...

I find it timely that I'm distracted from my (hopefully) last day of revisions and am surfing my favorite writing blogs instead of glued to my wip. Thank you for telling me it's okay to be distracted! :)

KarolynSherwood said...

Thank goodness -permission to be distracted! And long live the power of daydreaming while we're at it.

Thank you again, Nathan.

Simon Haynes said...

I can write and edit my work for weeks or months on end, but when I finally burn out I'll quit for a year or more.

I find I'm either up to my eyeballs in the current novel, or else it's shelved.

Jacqueline Howett said...

Thanks for making my procrastination sound positive. I agree with Ava Jae, but I got to say, I do like that feeling of not having any thing breathing down my neck. I then seem to get a lot done once I am actually writing.

I use to be a thousand or two a day writer, or a two three session a day kind of writer. I guess having written several books that are now all waiting for revision, I have slacked off. But even back then I use to take several long walks a day, between sessions, or climb a mountain with some salami and bread, but that was when I had dogs. Then it became biking, and now, if I'm lucky, its walking the beach or Starbucks, or my curious inspiration I get from blogs. For the most part I just enjoy day-dreaming on the porch.

Ted Cross said...

I write in bursts, often doing several chapters in a week or two, but then I can go weeks before I write again. I use that free time to mull over all the details of what comes next. To me that is all a part of writing the story well.

crow productions said...

It's called Facebook. That is an addictive distraction I have yet to let go.

Stephanie {Luxe Boulevard} said...

Ha! I have too many hobbies to NOT get distracted. Plus three kids who make writing several pages at a time impossible. I'm not the kind that starts an intro to a novel and never finishes it, but it takes me time. I've simply resolved to patience. I've been working off and on on my current MS for 9 months, and I will be happy if I'm ready for submission by Spring. I think it is just a matter of realizing that no novel will be written to perfection in a matter of weeks and to always, and I mean always, hold those characters in your mind, to the point that you fall in love with them. There are no characters worth writing about that you can't fall in love with.

Steph
www.luxeboulevard.blogspot.com

J E S S I C A said...

THIS.

Great timing - I've taken a few days off from writing because I'm just... tired... and I was starting to get into the cycle of beating myself up about it. Thanks for the reminder that living life is important work too.

Stephanie Barr said...

I don't think all writers are the same. I go for months without writing, then will sit down and power through a novel in 4-6 weeks, with most of it structured by my subconscious brain before I sit down.

Trying to write before I'm ready is a waste of time (for me).

I know this isn't the same for everyone else, but I've learned the hard way what works for me. And what doesn't.

Hillsy said...

Unless you have ADD....then if you let yourself get distracted you find out its wednesday, two weeks later, and you're trying to build a shed using just clingfilm and old cigarette packets.

Taylor Napolsky said...

Yeah, the part I agree with best is the importance of paying attention to real life.

http://www.taylornapolsky

D.G. Hudson said...

Distractions have given me some of my best story ideas. Observing life is a required part of being a writer. I posted about this some time back because imagination needs fuel and fresh air to revive it.

http://dghudson-rainwriting.blogspot.com/2010/11/curiosity-as-research-or-just-plain.html

Watching, and wondering -- two things that keep our minds active.

BP said...

Woah; does this new distraction thing include sleeping in on summer days? 'Cause it if does, COUNT ME IN! In other news, I totally agree, esp. if you're writing for kids and never are around any. YESH: tough luck...

Anonymous said...

This is the reason why I often think writing might not be the best profession for most. People in the medical profession work sixteen hour days without complaining.

Professional actors work longer hours.

From what I've read, Mary Higgins Clark worked full time, as a widow, raised her family, commuted to New York, and wrote from five am until it was time to leave for work.

If you love what you do, you do it as often as you can. And nothing trumps the book, not a party, a boat ride, or a vacation. I think it's important for all so-called writers to take the time to examine the reasons why they want to write.

I get tired of listening to excuses. Writers who love to write find the time or make the time. And it's the most important thing in their lives.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious. I see a few people are starting to promote themselves on the comment thread. Can we all do this? I wouldn't do it unless I asked first.

CourtLoveLeigh said...

I like to think of it as productive procrastination.

Matthew MacNish said...

Imagination is great, and certainly important, but it isn't everything. Sometimes you have to actually experience something.

Torre DeRoche said...

I like to play hard for about two years, then work fourteen hour days for two years until I pump out a book. It's all about balance, people! (And I've got no balance whatsoever in my life. Please send help.)

Rene Peterson said...

I agree with this post and would even expand on it. Life is cyclical. We are not machines and it is a gross injustice to expect ourselves or anyone else to "crank it out" in any line of work. Much of what is difficult about modern life is the pace and timing - we have trouble keeping up. Children are expected to automatically absorb a certain amount of information at a certain pace. Teachers are supposed to make this happen despite interruptions, despite absences, despite human nature. Adults are supposed to get it all done, have time for their kids, and for themselves too. It simply is not possible and something has to give. I believe it is poisonous to allow this modern, mechanistic attitude to carry over into creative work. Creative on demand! Thank you, Nathan, for offering a voice of sanity.

Just Another Day in Paradise said...

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. She said,while looking out at the waves gently slapping the beach. Water my best distraction and medium for construction.

Peter Dudley said...

I keep telling my wife this, but she keeps saying the dishes won't wash themselves.

So far, she's right. But I hold out hope.

SBJones said...

I push for a simple 500 words a day. If I really struggle then I am done, but I have found if I can get past that barrier then its not uncommon to crank out 2,000 or more.

Roger Floyd said...

Point well taken. I've always felt sorry for those who write 16 hours a day. Don't they have a life? I admit I write every day, but only for a few hours at a time. That said, however, the time I spend on hobbies I also use to think about what I'm going to write next. My book is the top priority in my life, but hobbies give me a tima away from writing so it doesn't become an obsession.

Laurie London said...

Such a timely blog topic for me, Nathan, as I've been overwhelmed by the "noise" around me lately.

I'm reading the nonfiction book HAMLET'S BLACKBERRY where he talks about the importance of having "gaps" in our digital connectedness in order to have depth in our lives, which fosters creativity. Just like what you're talking about.

I'm on deadline right now, so I'm writing every day, but I'm trying to limit my digital connectedness and finding myself so much happier.

Ha, so why am I online right now and reading your blog? ;-)

Courtney Price ~ Vintage Ginger Peaches said...

4 minutes ago, I said to myself, "you cannot write a novel and paint a bathroom".

The bathroom is half painted and looks terrible. But I have IDEAS that must be written!

Abby said...

I love this and agree 100%. Your blog is one of my favorites!

sherylmonks said...

Thanks for reminding me of this. Enjoy your blog.

Kris said...

So true. I'm one of those "my brain needs a break!" writers. Plus, if we didn't actually live life and interact with people and learn interesting facts, where would we find inspiration? Would our stories be true to life? Would they teach universal truths? I submit that the answer is no! And of course, let's not forget the most important distraction for any writer: reading.

Brenna Braaten said...

I am so glad other writers don't write every day too. I find it very difficult, and often I am inspired by my distrations, so they help in the long run.

spytower said...

Sometimes I can't tell if I'm making progress or going the other direction. That's when I know it's time for a break.

Ken Hoss said...

Great post, Nathan. I completely agree, a Writer has to have time to recharge. If I stayed put and did nothing but write, I'd be burned out in less than a week. Balance is the key. Thanks for the post!

Mr. D said...

Too much of anything, even writing, is not necessarily a good thing.

And speaking of distractions, just wait until you have kids!

Christine said...

I completely agree with you. I do try to touch the MS every day, even on the weekends. But sometimes that is all that it is: a physical touch. A walk by the computer and see it on the screen moment. I gave myself permission to take weekends "off" and to focus on enjoying my teenager this summer. College tours and traveling and talking to my friends long distance help vary my life.

Interesting people interested in many things make better writers.

Great post!

jesse said...

"Take a bath!"

Darley said...

If writing were my job, maybe I could do it every day. If I didn't have to balance it with full-time work to pay the mortgage, then maybe it would be possible. But that's still a big maybe.

Truth is, I've never had the opportunity to know if I'd get burned out. I think I would though.

Jolene Perry said...

I can sit down and write for hours, BUT every 30-45 minutes, I jump out of my MS, check email, stand up and stretch, do something around the house, and THEN I can jump back in.

j. littlejohn said...

amen, but that's the lazy part of me agreeing

SarahAnn said...

I'm so glad you said this. I always feel like such a failure when I go a day without writing.

"You want to be a writer," I say to myself. "So DO IT."

But the muse doesn't work that way, does she?

Alana Roberts said...

Well yes - writing advice simply doesn't work in the same way for everyone! And it's so amusing - there is always someone out there (like Anonymous 8:23am) who assumes that everyone, deep down, is really just like himself. Apparently we just need to discover that fact and behave accordingly and we will find out what we are really fit for - because it can't be the same job that our exceedingly self-confident friend is so skilled at!

I'm interested in what others say about the writing process, but in 'The Magic Key To Successful Writing' Maxine Lewis treats writing as a psychological event. Well, if it's true, that changes things! It means that the writing process isn't the same process for you as it is for me - as Nathan implies in this post. Is it possible that a single method, system or attitude will fix the problems that such an event engenders, for everyone?

I don't think so. If each of us is encountering his own psyche whenever he writes then, for some, order, method, and calm will characterize the process and for others - such as myself - the encounter will always be turbulent, agonizing, and mysterious. For some there will simply be a job to do, while an epic inner journey confronts others.

But that opens up other possibilities. If each of us writes as he is meant to, the results will be as different as two souls. Those of us who have relinquished the easy dream of writing how and what we are expected to write, simply because that dream came into conflict with the psychological necessity of writing what we ourselves can write, are bound to face the fear that the market will never have room for what we have to offer.

Marilyn Peake said...

I agree! Here's a really interesting article about the creative benefits of slowing down and enjoying life: Americans Work Too Much and Have Too Little Time for Play: Here's How to Slow Down 'The Great Speed-Up'.

BL Bonita said...

Great post, Nathan! I'm doing just that today--getting distracted by everything BUT writing, and enjoying the freedom. I'll worry about hitting the keyboard tomorrow. :-)

Mira said...

Absolutely true! I couldn't agree more.

Terrific post. Thank you.

On the topic of taking breaks and resting, I'm sorry I gave you such a hard time last week. Please take care of yourself, even if that means moving to a m,w,f schedule or vacations. It's important!

Other Lisa said...

@alana, super-interesting notion, and one with which I agree.

I do best when I write regularly, nearly every day, but for a couple of hours a day. I'm happy if I write 500 word. Sometimes I can do better (if I'm in a groove, I have multiple writing sessions), other times I struggle to write a few sentences. I also have projects (generally editing) when I am just powering through all day to the exclusion of much of anything else.

That said, I depend on having creative fuel. In other words, an actual life that includes interesting experiences and plenty of time for reflection.

Now, back to work.

Cathy @ Abnormally Paranormal Reviews said...

I completely agree with this. Just the other day I decided to re-watch The Lord of the Rings since I hadn't seen it for a few years, and what happens? I get one of the most amazing ideas to add to a story I came up with a year ago. It was lacking in one very important area, and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't fix it. Interesting that just watching a popular movie suddenly help me do that!

Anonymous said...

I write most days, even if it's only 200 words, it keeps the creative juices flowing. The rest of the time I just sit back and ponder!!!

Matthew C Wood said...

I agree entirely! Just like you I find my best ideas come to me when I'm not necessarily thinking about my work. Long walks in the sunshine have, traditionally, been the best source of good inspiration - as have long trips on the train or in the car.

Plus I simply can't write about a place unless I've seen it.

Life is too full of amazing things to tease our creative minds to shut it all out. Besides, how in God's name can you claim to create realistic characters and environs if you never experience them?

Anne R. Allen said...

What a wonderful post. Couldn't agree more. And most long-time professional writers I know say the same thing.

Creativity guru Julia Cameron calls it "filling the well." You can't keep taking out if you don't put stuff back in--stuff like love, joy, grief, anger, and staring stupidly at the clouds thinking nothing in particular. All the stuff that happens when you're away from the computer.

And I emphatically add blogging to that. Blogging every day empties the well way too fast. Blog slow. (Or smart, like Nathan did yesterday :-)

J. T. Shea said...

My thoughts on distractions are...oh, look! A passing cloud! Distractions are...nice looking woman passing...back to distractions, which are...a car...another car...another woman...another cloud...must close the blind...distractions are...nice-looking blind...but regarding distractions...what's that tune again? What was the subject again? Oh, distractions.

Sorry, Nathan. I'll give you my thoughts on distractions after I rearrange my sock drawer. Again.

Erin said...

Thank you. Although I rarely write anything of substance many days in a row, I'm always thinking about writing in some form or another. Even if I'm just living life.

J. T. Shea said...

Anonymous 8:25 am, of course we can all promote ourselves on the comment thread! I hereby promote myself to Supreme Lord High Master of the Known and Unknown Universe, First Class, with Oak Leaves!

Chris Phillips said...

This post went in a totally different direction that I thought from reading the title. I suppose you're right so long as distractions you mean socializing and being outside of your home rather than on the interwebz.

Dawn Pier said...

Yes, yes and Yes!! I knew, somewhere deep in the writerly recesses of my being that this was so. I keep track of my productivity and it is up down up down down down down and then I take a break and the next day, whammo UP UP UP! I too am someone who needs to get away from it for a day or two to recharge. Thank you for giving voice to what my intuition has been telling me these lOOOONG months of trying to write every day.

Alana Roberts said...

All hail, J.T.!

In related news I hereby promote myself to the post of Great Defendrix of Beauty and Truth Throughout the Realm, which realm is comprised of pretty much the same territory aforementioned, plus a number of Imaginary Places. No Oak Leaves for me, please - I insist on at least a one-piece bathing suit, preferably with attached shorts.

margaretreyesdempsey said...

Amen, Nathan! I've always said the same, but who am I. ;-)

By the way, my son and I are about halfway through your book and we're really enjoying it.

Anonymous said...

Must be nice to be rich. If you have a contract for a book a year– which is about the only way to make a living from writing fiction – you'd better be gluing your bum to the chair and getting those hours in.

Kristin Laughtin said...

YES YES YES. No matter what genre the book is, writers write about life. It's impossible to do so without taking breaks to live life, gather inspiration, work through problems, and rest. You might be able to crank out a few books if you glue yourself to the chair and do nothing but write, but eventually they will become stale because you're not out there living.

@Anonymous 4:17: I don't have a contract (because I haven't tried yet), usually write a pretty long book per year anyway, and still find plenty of time to do other things. It takes dedication, but not slavery to the chair and computer.

hmlashelle said...

I am so with you here, Nathan! I always have marched to my own drummer in this area-- I write when I can make the time and when it feels right to me-- which is pretty often, but certainly not everyday. I think it's important to listen to yourself and take your own writer's pulse... if I'm in a great space for writing three or four times a week, I'd rather put all of myself into that time than force myself everyday-- and yes, great ideas come in the relaxed in-between times. Enjoying the process is super important and you can't do that unless the writing is integrated healthily and joyfully into your life.

Becky Mushko said...

Most of mye story development—writing—takes place in my mind. I can be anywhere for that to happen. Plus, I have to mull over the idea, re-think, etc., before I sit down at the computer.

To sit and star at the computer screen while waiting for a BIG IDEA is a monumental waste of time for me. Anything you're doing other than sitting in front of the computer screen typing as fast as you can before the idea is gone is research.

The saying "life is what happens to you while you are doing something else" also applies to writing.

Sa. Swaro. said...

Totally agreed! There are distractions, then there are distractions... the big ones are the good ones. I write in spurts, not in measured daily doses, and I always welcome the big distractions (though not while I'm IN THE MIDDLE OF WRITING ... that just throws me off!).

I just wish I could find a better way to deal with the little distractions - like Facebook, ha ha... or the entire Internet.

Neil Larkins said...

Thanks for this, Nathan. Relieved a lot of pressure. For years there have been "suggestions" and "helps" for the writer. I remember hearing about one years ago, long, long before I got into writing. It was from a writer himself, a columnist I believe who is quite possibly passed on. Sorry I can't remember his name, but I remember what he wrote, or at least think it went like this: The guy said that often his best ideas came in the middle of the night but by morning he had forgotten them. They were great ideas, he was sure and it was making him crazy that he couldn't remember what they were. Then, he heard or read a suggestion to keep a pad of paper and a pencil by the bed. That way, if he had a dream or an inspiration, all he had to do was jot it down and the next morning it would be there for him to read. Well, he did just that and that very night had a revelation. He woke up just enough to write it down and went back to sleep. When he awoke he remembered that he'd had a thought and also recalled he'd written it down. Thinking it must be brilliant, he grabbed the pad and read, "Women are monogamous; men are polygamous." [Maybe you've heard this story too and remember who it was wrote it.]

Brenda said...

Great post, Nathan. This is what I do. Mind you, I first had to set up a writing discipline, which took me a whole year to achieve. Now that's not a problem and I don't need to force it.

CJ Black said...

Very well said! I agree completely. I think it would stress me out if I had to write every single day all day and sometimes, it's just impossible. Bills must be paid, errands must be run and many things happen. There's the 9 to 5 and sometimes, I really don't feel like it. Forcing your muse will usually result in poor work.

Charlotte Sannazzaro said...

I agree that the many times the best ideas come when you're actively not writing. They just drop in out of the blue when you're doing chores, exercising or in the shower! Then it's a made rush to get to the keyboard before you forget your inspiration. Always keep a notepad by the bed, because if you're like me you won't remember in the morning.

Susie said...

I think keeping busy with life is a healthy and necessary distraction.

I'm so curious, though. I wonder how many repeatedly published authors, including the ones who comment here, have kept their day jobs (as you did, Nathan), and if so, how they manage to write when they are also now publicizing their work. Talk about distraction!

jenny milchman said...

I completely agree! Let yourself be distracted, zone, dream, vegitate. Some of the best writing will come from it.

tanya grove said...

Bravo!

Deborah Serravalle said...

Julia Cameron in The Right to Write, suggests we need to refill our tank. I agree. Often when I can't write it's simply that I am depleted. Getting out into the world recharges me!

I addressed this issue in a post entitled Serendipity, Writer's Block and Chocolate. If you're interested, check it out at www.deborahserravalle.com

Finally, it was affirming to hear you also find writing draining. Just sayin'...

Kathryn Magendie said...

So true. I once read where a writer said, "I never watch television! It cuts into my writing time and makes me stupid." Well, I like a little TV - it's the complete way to zone out and Not Think. But, when I first heard that advice, I felt as if I were lacking as a writer.

Then, I thought, wait, didn't you write a novel? Didn't you write more than one? Isn't that what a writer does?

I don't write every day but then sometimes I do write every day if I'm really into the heart of my novel and getting into it. What I always do is make sure I'm not "avoiding" - that's the danger for me. Otherwise, I know I'll get it done (of course, having deadlines now assures I better get it done! :-D )

Colleen Walsh Fong said...

I have many epiphanies on how to resolve "stuck places" during downtime--especially if I take it on a day I had planned to write.

Emily Wenstrom said...

I totally agree … and I totally disagree.

Agree: As a writer, it is so important to soak up life. And it’s important to

Disagree: I work in the creative industry. Me and all my coworkers have to show up and create awesome ideas every day. No matter what mood you’re in. No matter if it’s Monday. Or if you’re super busy. Or don’t like the assignment. The way you get to be able to do that has nothing to do with an innate creativity. I’ve worked with some people who have incredible natural creativity, but can only produce maybe once a week. They’re ruled by their inspiration instead of the other way around. The people I really admire as creatives got that way by developing a habit of that state of mind, not waiting for it to come to them. I’m a big fan of Chuck Close’s mantra “inspiration is for amateurs.”a

I probably don’t need to say that I write every day. And it doesn’t exhaust me. Maybe the difference is that I only write an hour a day instead of huge bursts. My progress is slow … but it’s steady. I don’t wear myself out, and it helps me keep my story fresh in my mind so that when I do have bursts of inspiration, I’m ready for it.

I suppose everyone is different, but I think it’s something every writer should at least give a good fighting shot for a few months.

Cindy Little said...

This is absolutely true!! Plus I find that my brain continues to "write" even when I'm not at the computer. Some of my best ideas have come to me while I've been "distracted".

Lauren said...

Great post, Nathan! I have been battling with numerous distractions this Summer and have been beating myself up about not writing every day. So thank you for this shift of perspective...

Ishta Mercurio said...

YES!

Living life fully gives you something to write about.

And for me personally, taking time to recharge and give my mind a rest actually gets me out of writer's block faster than trying to "power through". (Although sometimes, that's just the lazy me not wanting to get anything done. You have to know the difference.)

Daniel McNeet said...

Good and new ideas come from interacting and socializing with others whom have something to say. If you are a good listener the new ideas will fill your head with every conversation. Good ideas are always being presented; it is the ability to recognize them that takes the talent.

Caitlin Vincent said...

This was such a breath of fresh air. You're absolutley right: you can't write if you don't live. Well said.

J. M. Dow said...

I totally feel this. I can't wait until my paycheck starts coming in so I can start really experience life again--my adventures have been seriously reigned in due to lack of money for admission, gas...breathing...ha ha.

Jaimie said...

Adore the shit out of this post.

E. B. Davis said...

I agree with you, but then that's my nature-cyclical. However, I try to fight that nature because I don't feel that I'm being productive. It's a constant battle.

When I am productive, I think why can't I do this everyday or at least every other day. I'm not sure my "down" time helps. Everyday life distracts--it doesn't help my script--unless to remind me that my mc can have car troubles, home maintenance issues and relationship problems too.

But then, most of that is boring and doesn't propel my plot.

Emily Strempler said...

I don't know. I'm one of those sit down and write every day authors... and I love it. It may have something to do with the fact that I also enjoy improv theater and unscripted debate. I do get what you're saying, though. I tend to do my best thinking on the bus, or over coffee.

J. T. Shea said...

Congratulations on your promotion, Alana! Beauty and truth always needs defending, particularly in Imaginary Places. One piece with shorts, hold the oak leaves? No problem!

janesadek said...

Thank you Nathan. I just lost a beloved aunt who I'd spent the last year taking care of, while I juggled my responsibilities to my own aged parents. A few days after my aunt's funeral my mother fell and once again I was sidetracked. I so much want to get my work published and be a productive writer, but I think that neglecting these sweet ones would have been wrong. Thanks again for the pass.

ann elwood said...

Janice Steinberg, a writer friend, suggested setting a timer rather than counting words. That really works for me. I set the timer for an hour, and during that time I do nothing but write (or do nothing). After that, I can keep writing (and often do) or not. This method prevents the writing of junk to fill a word count and, more important, it alleviates guilt over not writing ALL THE TIME. http://rttetc.com

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