Saturday, May 9, 2009

Writing, Inspiration and Schedules

So, as noted in last night's post, I'm writing about why I've falled off schedule.

There are quite a few reasons for the delay. Some of them have to do with my job search. Some of them have to do with having two little boys in the house. Most of them, however, have to do with the state of mind conducive to writing, when it happens, and the lack of writing implements of all kinds appropriate to those times.

OK, they're excuses more than reasons, but that's why I'm also going to be writing about what I'll be doing about it.

At any rate, I get most of my best ideas for writing when I'm doing something that might be described as active meditation. I'm not implying anything mystical by that, either; I simply can think more clearly when I'm doing something more or less mindless. I suppose it's because that part of my subconscious that reminds me about daily chores, bills to be paid, and eating lunch is busy dealing with something that I ought to be doing, so my conscious mind can pay attention to more interesting things, like ideas and wordplay. For whatever reason, though, I get a lot of writing ideas when I'm working out, cooking, or driving.

Yes, driving. Driving is a mindless activity. If I may be allowed a small tangent; a mindless activity is one where no decisions need to be made. In most cases, driving qualifies. Route? Mostly to the same places, the grocery store, the gym, work, relatives. No thought required. Speed? Mandated by law. General road behavior? Also mandated by law. A driver needs to be aware, but that's not the same as making decisions. It engages the senses and the body, but if you're having to make decisions about whether or not to do something while driving, you're probably doing it wrong.

Now that I think about it, that may be my next essay; how I learned to drive and why it worked.

This essay, on the other hand, is about writing, inspiration, and schedules. As noted, I get most of my inspiration for writing, whether fiction, essay, or just pithy little sayings, while I'm doing something that occupies body and subconscious. The trouble with this, of course, is that the former is required for recording those inspirations, even as very abbreviated notes. In some cases, stopping to take notes would be inconvenient and break the mental state I need to continue writing. Working out qualifies for one of those, as does chores. In others, like driving, stopping to take notes is actively dangerous. It does require the senses and body engaged, after all.

At any rate, writing nonfiction without ideas or fiction without plot, characterization, or dialogue is very likely to wind up as literary fiction. As the defining objective characteristic of literary fiction is that no one reads it, and I want people to read what I'm writing, writing that way is counterproductive.

Ok, new tangent, complete non sequitor. Has anyone else realized that the (not quite new) McDonalds commercial basically is positing that Ronald is the creator-god? For those of you that missed it, it's the one where the kids are looking through a telescope and there's nothing there. Ronald looks out, says 'oh, I know what to do', and throws out a handfull of star-stuff which then becomes the night sky. Now, whether you read this as Mickey D's asserting that Ronald is God, or read it as Mickey D's asserting that they've so much money that they hired God to play Ronald, I still find it vaguely offensive. For aesthetic reasons, not religious ones, but still.

Ok, back to the matter at hand; my best writing thinking is done when I've no way to get it on paper. That mostly has to do with state of mind. The question is how to get into that state while not in a situation where I can't use it. The answer is, unfortunately, rather prosaic. Practice, practice, practice. I've got to get into a habit where I can, if not turning the ideas and inspiration on and off like a tap, at least summon it up with a minimum of fuss. In order to do that, I've got to practice. In order to make sure I do that, I need to set up a schedule.

I've got to sort something out where the kids won't be jumping up and interrupting too bad. Right now I'm typing with a toddler over the shoulder, and trust me when I say we're all very grateful for the backspace key. That's very much a matter of scheduling. Since the wife and I swap days watching them, at least while I'm unemployed, I should be able to sit down to write once every two days. So that's the plan. Once every two days I'm going to sit down and write something here. It may be an essay. It may be an anecdote. It might, possibly, be a note that I'm going to write more of Ordinal. One way or another, I'll be writing something here on a regular basis.

Because it's the only way I can get this unruly head of mine tamed.

Yeah, like that's going to happen. Still, I have to try in order to have a chance at success.

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