Writing, Reading, and Smiling . . . It's Contagious.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Thinking, Planning, and Daydreaming

How are you?

How am I? Well, if you follow me on Twitter or converse with me on Facebook, you know that I've been doing some pretty strange things lately (strange even for me).

Last Sunday and Monday I spent most of my time changing scenery. I moved from sitting at the desk to sitting under the desk. When that failed to impress me, I moved to the abstract rug in front of the bookshelf that holds the printer. After staring at all of those books shelved in a manner only a lunatic would understand, I abandoned my aching back and sat on my thinking couch for a while. 

Tuesday and Wednesday followed the same pattern except that I sat on the couch upside down, hoping the blood would rush to my brain and spark . . . something.

On Thursday I dragged one of those old leather arcade chairs in front of the sliding glass doors. I spent the entire afternoon  and evening staring at clouds and watching the chipmunk and rabbit frolic a little too closely to my garden.

Friday was spent in town observing people while I chauffeured my mother to her weekly must-be places. That evening I came home and listened to inspiring music while I began to make a list of things that interest me. The list was cut short when a storm halted all thought except unplugging all major appliances in the house and slamming all the windows closed.

On Saturday I read articles on existentialism, transcendentalism, and a bunch of other -isms that I've now forgotten. I talked with friends, family, and other writers about writing, life, and happiness.

He didn't move for 20 minutes. I didn't move for days.
So, why all the moving about, staring, daydreaming, reading, and chatting? I'm tackling the enormous task of searching for a new story idea. While I've probably looked like this little guy on the right (unmoving with a blank stare), I've been doing some serious thinking about plot, characterization, theme, and a bunch of other garbage. 

I also pulled out some articles written on the subject of finding a new idea to write about. Some were helpful; others were the ravings of snobs. I recall that one writer commented that if you cannot find a topic to write about, then you're barking up the wrong tree and should give up writing because you're not a writer and will never succeed. Wow, what a statement. I believe this individual failed to realize that preliminary writing involves thinking, planning, and daydreaming. I'm certainly not going to start something I can't finish and I'm not going to write myself into a corner without having first tested my ideas with some initial role-playing.

What are my plans for today? This writer is going to daydream a bit more and this afternoon I'm writing down the three solid story ideas that I've concocted this week after all of this vital wandering. Maybe I'll even come up with a few more.

Writers, I'm leaving you with this final thought: Without living, how can you know? Without knowing, how can you speak?


I want to send out a big "thank you" to all my friends who have listened to me whine and complain this week. Some of you have even thrown some great ideas and words of wisdom my way. I cannot thank you enough for that.



If you haven't visited the new Facebook group, History Writers, be sure to check it out. A friend of mine has created a new discussion group for readers, writers, and lovers of history and historical fiction. We're having a blast, and I hope you'll join us.


As always, I love to hear from you.
If you’re in the cyber-neighborhood, drop me a line.

In the meantime, keep writing, reading, and smiling.
It’s contagious.


Sara Lynn said...

I don't agree with that writer. You're right it takes some daydreaming and planning to get to the right story idea. A prime example of that would be Tolkien. He spent years creating an imaginary language, world, cultures, and various species of characters for his book. It is one of the greatest works of fantasy writing that I've ever read. So there you go...... you've got good instincts. ;) Looking forward to reading the next novel you write.

J.E. Seanachaí said...

Thanks for the comment, Sara!

I was unaware of the prep time involved in Tolkien's book, but it's an outstanding example of the work involved behind the scenes that creates a lasting, impressionable story. Had Tolkien not spent crucial time carefully plotting, planning, and imagining before putting words on paper, the story would lack its richness and uniqueness.

Levi Montgomery said...

I don't think that there's ever any meaningful lack of "things to write about." You can write about any or all of the silly thoughts that pop into your head, thus validating the claim that if you can't think of something, you should give up. The question isn't whether you can find something to write about. You could write about a woman who sits under her desk to find inspiration, or a lunatic in charge of shelving books at the local library, or a chipmunk that sits and stares at nothing all day (communicating with aliens? praying? contemplating the difference?). The question is which of the million things you could come up with is actually the story you're looking for.

And while you make that search, here's the only writing advice that's worth the time it takes to give it: Read. Write. Repeat.

J.E. Seanachaí said...

Thanks for the insight, Levi!

At the risk of paraphrasing you, I am going to say this: thinking of any idea and putting it on paper makes one a writer, but does it make one a GOOD writer and does that mean the topic is WORTHY of exploration? Not necessarily.

It's the writer's job to make that seemingly inane topic mean something and go to a significant location. Without the ability to do this, one has failed.

I believe the author of the article would have been more accurate in the defining of the above distinction and titling the work "Make Your Random Thoughts Essential." Granted, I don't know the writer of the article and perhaps I'm being unfair in my criticism, but I do believe this individual would agree with our discussion of this subject.

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