Monday, May 11, 2009

Sometime words get in the way of writing

Read an interesting quote from Toni Morrison today: something to the effect that she solves all of her literary problems on the subway, because there's nothing to do there, anyway.

I think someone who has never tried to write anything of length or substance or quality may have trouble really catching the gravity of that problem, but, as we can all testify I'm sure, solving those problems is really a substantial thing, and it takes effort. Speaking for myself, I am constantly inundated with stuff: phone calls, emails, bloggies, twitters, facebookles, kids, wives (well, wife), etc, etc...sometimes I have to just leave everything and everybody, just walk away and think: where is this story going? what is the next scene? am I on track? why did this character do this? how will the other characters react? what's my next story? 

I don't know about you, but if I have a literary problem and I sit down to type, I'm screwed...I have to solve it before I type, or at least think through it to define the problem better. Kind of like a musician doing their homework before they step into the studio. I like to strap on my iPod and sit outside and think; I don't like to walk, or shop, or drive...anything where I have to think about what I'm doing. I just like to sit and think. Or take a shower, but there's only so long you can do that in a day.

So, then--question of the day: where do you solve your literary problems?
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Sage advice on getting through writer's block from...well, someone who goes by the handle Virtual Stranger. I haven't put any backwork into figuring it out, but I have no idea who this person is...but they are my new favorite blogger for writing advice.

10 comments:

K.C. Shaw said...

I do a lot of my thinking while driving (I've got a long commute), hiking or walking around town, in the shower, or after I've gone to bed but before I've fallen asleep. The shower is the best, I think, but like you said, there's a limit to how long you can stay in there. :)

abrokenlaptop said...

I used to solve my literary problems in the shower, but with the two little ones, it has become a high traffic area of late. I think about it while I'm running, or lying in bed. I usually fall asleep while trying to figure out my work.

Jamie Eyberg said...

It irritates my wife but I solve my story problems while sitting on the couch or driving. It is only a problem because she is usually right next to me wanting to talk.

Natalie L. Sin said...

Best place for me is in the car with good music playing. Failing that, in bed!

katey said...

Yep, same as the others. The car, and like Nat, with good music playing. Sometimes I go on long walks for the same purpose, just around the neighborhood, too.

And then there are the annoying times where I get burrowed down into bed and have to hop up and write down an epiphany. God forbid we should forget those!

I agree, though. I have to solve before I write most of the time-- or lots of wanting to bang my head off the keyboard ensues.

Jeremy D Brooks said...

If I try to solve problems in bed, I won't sleep all night...bad habit. I actually did that last night, and I clearly remember seeing 2am roll by...

Josh Reynolds said...

I usually take a walk, whether it be pacing from one end of the flat to the other, tossing a stress ball hand to hand, or out in the fresh air.

I also tend to switch gears when I get stuck. Story ain't going nowheres, I start work on something else. That usually gets me back on the right track.

Barry Napier said...

I'm the opposite. Sometimes I don't know HOW to solve it until I'm halfway through whatever I'm working on.

Aaron Polson said...

I wish Fred (my subconcious) solved all my problems, but alas. I try to squeeze in some thinking time every chance I have...every spare moment I can find. Sometimes, I find myself in front of my class, spewing nonsense about figurative language, and "poof"--epiphany.

Probably not the best pedagogy.

Catherine J Gardner said...

On the bus, in the bath, and at bedtime - and yep, I lie awake for hours unable to shake the plot that's avoided me all day.