Dan Brown believes strongly in protecting the process.
By process, he means, the writing schedule and habits that create the difference between a writer who produces and the writer who does not.
This has become personally important to me; and lately it has come to my attention that there’s more to protecting the process than just showing up.
It’s about protecting yourself from the negative forces that affect the writing.
We are often disturbed and distracted by people and events around us. I’m not talking about the road raging driver or ineffective salesperson- we should never allow such an insignificant person or event to affect us at all.
I believe we have to prioritize who and what is important – they come first in our lives either before, after, or within our process. The rest of the world must fall away.
I don’t make appointments during my writing time. That has become a habit for the last some years. However, I have allowed other things to interrupt my life, things I thought were vital. This is mostly due to what is expected of me as a social, agreeable person. Lately, though, I’ve realized do have a choice.
I don’t care if I come across as a little anti-social or less agreeable. I’m protecting myself from people and events who will affect my time, writing, and state of mind.
I used to see a writer regularly arguing with others on social media. I asked him why he didn’t just ignore these people. He said it didn’t bother him, they needed to be taught a lesson.
Recently, he deleted many of his social media accounts and limiting his time on others, telling his followers that all the interactions were causing him distress and he hadn’t been able to write.
I’m not only talking about social media, but the regular, sometimes expected, social interactions we have. If they are draining, why do we take part in them? Expectations? Do we get anything out of it?
If not, then rethink it.
Some of the smartest people in the world cut down on their decision making in order to save their energy for creativity.
Einstein owned four brown suits, all alike. He didn’t want to waste his energy on choosing clothing.
Mark Zuckerberg, it’s said, dresses down to save time and energy for the important things.
I, personally, sometimes barely get out of my PJs before I begin my writing – and you know what – I get more writing done!
One writer I know said she refuses to put on make up or do her hair because writing takes precedence.
We don’t need to abandon all our comforts and regular healthy habits in order to be creative, but our energy for decision making could be more balanced and save more preserved efforts for our projects.
Write about being stuck.
Write about your distractions.
Give them a life, a reason, a purpose.
Then get rid of them.
Even if they’re not gone – at least you’ve been writing.
When I started writing memoir, someone said they had no desire for revenge and so they would never write memoir.
But memoir is not about revenge. And you shouldn’t write memoir to get revenge.
Basically, it is believed, a writer can use an actual name of a real person because we all have our points of view and, if they disagree with yours, they can write your own.
HOWEVER, consider these things:
In the memoir pieces I’ve written, I’ve made minor changes to names. This gives anyone in the piece deniability if they’re ever asked whether or not they are the person in my writing; as well, it doesn’t necessarily point to them, and I am able to defend myself should anyone be looking to sue me. Or, in other words, I have deniability.
How are you like a peanut?
I gave this prompt to my students. Even as I was assigning this prompt, I saw the looks on their faces. They were not the first class to question my sanity; that happens regularly. So, my answer, must be “I’m a little nutty.”
Some of my students came up with amazing responses.
This is challenging and, as writers, we must challenge ourselves. When we challenge ourselves, new parts of us open and allow us to grow and see life from a different point of view.
Choose an item from your refrigerator or snack drawer and compare it to yourself.
(Or choose an item and compare it to your main character.)
If you’d like to share it in our group, please do.
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith says, “Dare to Suck.”
It seems that he and his band mates have a regular meeting in which they bring the wildest, crappiest, outlandish ideas to toss them around and see if they work.
9 out of 10 of those ideas have to be trashed – but the tenth gets you something like “Dude Walks Like a Lady.”
Why not throw around ideas that seem completely outrageous?! They can always be canned later, but in the meantime you have some ideas to play with and you might, well, come up with something good.
I wrote the line, “When I killed my neighbors dog…” My friends said, you can not use that. But I played with it to see where it might take me, and I wrote “Of Strays and Exes” by just playing with this strange line that came to me in a dream.
It was accepted for publication in Pilcrow and Dagger almost immediately and later made into a podcast. You can find it kindle now, or search P&G’s podcasts.
**Disclaimer: No animals were killed or injured in the writing of that story.