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Friday, July 25, 2014

Workshop...Friday?: When You Can't Write

Riddick never understood why I stared at "that box" so much.
Technology drama: we've all dealt with it. This week, I had a combo of a non-functioning laptop, mostly dead cellphone, and a busy schedule to juggle, and while I'm not whining about that - please don't let me be whiney - one of my acknowledged neuroses as a writer is the need to write. In my post about introversion a couple weeks ago, I touched on an introvert's need for moments of quiet in which to recharge and let the creative juices flow. But there isn't always time for that. And sometimes, our technology works against us and we're forced to live with words unwritten for days on end - a painful process for manic writers like me.

So what do you do when your writing time just isn't happening?

- The simple answer is read instead. If, like what happened to me yesterday, you have a small chunk of time in which to write, but your devices aren't working, find a good book and read a few chapters. Writers have to read, and often times we don't read enough, because we're so focused on the writing.

But if that's not cutting it...

- When my phone is working (and it is now, hallelujah) but I'm too busy to sit down and really tackle a block of writing, I have on-the-go email conversations with myself. Gosh, that's a social networking fail, isn't it? "Who are you emailing, Lauren?" "Me." But it works. You could be in the middle of the grocery store, and have a great idea for a line. That happened to me two days ago. Mercy's voice popped into my head, all happy and Cajun, and I HAD to write it down. So I sent myself an email on my phone, and then later, I can fold that line into a story chapter. Send yourself a note, a memo, just write it down. It's surprising how much that feels like progress when you're running around. I'll write myself paragraphs of story, whole scenes, on a phone email, and then I have it, crystalline and straight from the original thought.

- I let my phone help me in another way, too. Do you ever get a chance to write a scene, but then you have to shut down the computer and fly out the door? No chance for on-the-spot revision or reflection. I'll copy/paste what I've written and email it to myself. Later, oftentimes when I'm in bed at night, I'll open up that email and read it on my phone. It feels different, on the phone screen, like it isn't anything I've written, but a little snippet of story someone has sent me. It helps me detach myself from the process and just read the story as a reader, and not its creator. If I get to the end and wish it continued, I know I've got a winner on my hands. If it's boring, it's time to scrap the project.

Even when writing time is tight, I try to keep my mind engaged with the story. I make soundtrack playlists and listen to them while I muck stalls. I jot tidbits on discarded envelopes and napkins. I tell people all the time that I think writing is an addiction, and I stand by that. We've got to get our fix in any way we can.

Hopefully, if you're short on time and cooperative tech like me, you can use your phone, or pen and paper, to get you through the rough patch. Until then, grab a great read and feed your mind.

And hopefully, I can get my laptop sorted and get back to regular posting!

Happy Friday. Be on the lookout for a sample of Keeping Bad Company.

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