Blogger and writer Janna G. Noelle (whose blog, The Rules of Engagement, is quite insightful about the art and craft of writing) has been doing a series on the daily distractions that writers not named Stephenie Meyer or James Patterson have to deal with as they pursue their dreams of publication.
I had commented to her that my biggest problem is the amount of time I spend staring at a computer monitor because of my job. 40+ hours per week hunched over a keyboard can throw baking soda on one’s creativity when one’s creative outlet also requires being hunched over a keyboard.
Janna devoted a whole post to the subject (and she doesn’t half-ass her posts*), which made me feel famous for some reason. Anyway, enough of my delusions… She came up with two clever ideas to address my excessive amounts of computer face time, which are:
1. Hand write my fiction.
This is genius in its simplicity. When I was much younger, I used to hand write all my stories, and it’s nothing like looking at a monitor. I’d say it’s a different experience entirely, and whatever I write wouldn’t be the same because of it.
Unfortunately, as awesome as this idea is, it probably won’t work for me for a couple of reasons. One is that I write at a furious pace and, because I have damaged joints from 29 years of drumming, my pencil-holding claw will ache fiercely within a few minutes. This problem will reach tragic proportions when I finally write that massive blockbuster and 1000 people show up at my book signings. Is it possible to email my signature to their Kindle devices? Can I give out stickers?
The other concern with this is that I am not a plotter, which means I often write whole chapters I will never use, or I have to move big chunks of scenes around. And I frequently find-and-replace character names I had to change. You get the drift.
I still think Janna’s idea to hand write terrific. So was this one:
This option is more practical for me, though I’m a bit technologically impaired, so I’ve got to figure out how to make MS Word give me pale blue or green pages instead of white ones. I never have to do that at work, so I’ve never figured out how.
I could also try to use the TV as a monitor so it’s not so close to my face. The viewing distance is the biggest headache, I believe. One can only stand looking at something 18 inches away for so long. I feel bad for the monks who made those illuminated manuscripts back in the medieval times. Or were they friars? No, that can’t be. I learned in Canterbury Tales that friars are a bunch of buttheads.
Since Janna posted her piece, I’ve been thinking about what else I can do (and already do) to deal with the computer monitor being an unavoidable part of my livelihood and my art. For example:
A. At work, I’ve been initiating or getting involved in a lot of projects that get me away from the desk.
B. I’ve been buffering my work time and my personal writing time with music. If you scroll back a post or two, you know that I like to noodle around on the guitar and write songs. Jamming for 45 minutes can often serve to reboot my creativity, since playing guitar stimulates a different part of my brain.
C. I got a story idea. When I talked to Janna about my conundrum, I had just completed the eight-millionth draft of a 10k word novelette and felt pretty burnt out (and bummed that it is probably unpublishable). Then, the other day, three words randomly popped into my head, and I instantly knew they were going to be the first three words of my next story. I started writing it two days ago, and, as I’m sure you can all relate, once you get that fire started, nothing is putting it out until you type The End.
So thanks, Janna, for getting me thinking.
And thanks, those of you reading this, for allowing me to prattle on about myself for 700 words. I’ll try to make it more about you next time. I swear!
*go ahead. Somebody male a “whole-ass” joke. You know you want to.