Monday, October 18, 2010

Writer Interrupted

As writers we value our time. Time has a way of slipping through our fingers. Days, weeks, months can pass before we finish a mere outline for a novel let alone the novel itself. And so, we get frustrated at any interruption that pulls us away from our precious writing time.

But life is a series of interruptions. They are unavoidable. I should know: I’ve lost two weeks of editing because of sickness. During that time I realised frustration is a waste of energy. There was nothing I could do so, rather than seeing the interruption as a step back from my work, I decided instead to try to see it as an inspiration.

Inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places: the stranger at the door, the overheard conversation, the delayed public transport. A whole novel can form from a single unexpected moment, phrase, image, or sound.

If we stay attuned to the world and never switch off as a writer, then we can make the most of every opportunity – including the interruptions. They can be an opportunity to hone the writing mind.

Can you think of a time when an interruption helped you as a writer—even if it was just a break you didn’t realise you needed?

Note: Thank you so much for all the well wishes. I’m still sick but I can at last say I’m on the mend.

39 comments:

  1. I agree that those interruptions are there for a reason and we can always take away something for our writing. SOunds like you have really been sick. I pray you get better and back to norm soon.

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  2. If I'm locked in, I really do try to avoid interruptions. They are a fact of life though, so I guess we just have to deal with them. Sometimes we have no control over what pops up. Especially so with illness! I hope you feel better...

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  3. Sorry to hear about your sickness. It's frustrated sometimes to be interrupted from writing but like you said, it might be a break we didn't realize we needed. And usually it helps us get back to writing with a bigger perspective or more gusto.

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  4. Terri, yep, I haven't been this sick in a long while. Thanks so much for the prayers. I really appreciate them.

    Pat, writing while sick is a mistake. lol. Thanks for the well wishes.

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  5. Cindy, yes exactly, interruptions often help us get back to writing with -- as you say -- "more gusto" :)

    Mason, thanks so much :)

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  6. Glad to hear that you are getting better. I found you on NaNo and have you as a writing buddy as well.
    You are so right with this post. I try to just make the best of things as they come. If you have little control and can't expel the hindrances in life then you might as well make the best of things and use them to your advantage.
    Take care.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  7. Glad to see you're up and about. I've gotten some stuff coming up which may attract my focus further away from writing, so I make the most of what time I do have and let everything else go.

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  8. Arlee, It's great to be NaNo writing buddies!

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  9. Jeffrey, thanks. Yep, "making the most" is all we can do when we have other commitments or interruptions to our writing life.

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  10. All the time. They have kept me from writing something stupid. SOmetimes interruptions are divine appointments that we should be thankful for.

    Stephen Tremp

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  11. Hi Lynda...nice to see you back. Inspirations do come from a variety of sources: one just has to be receptive to it. Interruptions are irritating, aren't they? But, they do teach us a lot of things.

    http://rachnachhabria.blogspot.com/2010/10/tlc-for-supporting-characters.html

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  12. Glad to hear you're feeling better Lynda :)

    I agree with you on the interruptions. I'm a firm believer in "everything happens for a reason". I had to abandon my writing for a bit over the last few weeks of summer because I was just so busy with too many other things (which was just as well, because I was somewhat stuck), and usually when I go back to my MS after such a break, I usually see too many flaws with it, and end up needing to restart the whole thing.

    This time though, it was different. When I went back to it, even though I still saw the flaws, they were fixable, and I could see myself continuing with it!

    The break actually ended up helping me.

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  13. The best thing we can all do for our writing is to try to stay healthy!

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  14. Good to hear you're doing better. :)

    This is why it's not good for writers (or really anyone in the entertainment industry) to be workaholics. Because how, then, will inspiration and even ideas of worth come to you without you living your life? That's not to say, though, that I'm not thinking about my book a lot...

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  15. I hope you are starting to feel better.

    I think the occasional interruption is needed so that we can, as you say, step back from our writing and assess our progress. Otherwise we may continue on with a particular course of action that just isn't working.

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  16. I loathe being interrupted, especially during a first draft when I'm writing out of sheer panic. But I often come back to find the break was good for me -- my head's clearer, my desire to finish is stronger, I'm more creative.

    Glad you're on the mend, Lynda!

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  17. It helps when I need a break from my writing for perspective and didn't realize how badly I needed it!

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  18. yes, yes, these interruptions should be used as a chance to collect the creative energy within you, which you will pour into your work as soon as the working process begins again.

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  19. I wasn't able to continue on my edits so I had a much needed break. Although, I don't know I take a break even when I can because I end up packing other things into my schedule.

    CD

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  20. I wasn't able to continue on my edits so I had a much needed break. Although, I don't know I take a break even when I can because I end up packing other things into my schedule.

    CD

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  21. Interruptions, with five children, my life is full of interruptions. Now that the children are older, when they see me at my computer for hours, they tell me I need a break, even if only for the eye strain.

    So we take walks together. Sometimes, I'll tell them about my writing, but most times the children just want my attention to talk. This is a good thing, I know. It offers my brain a break and then I can attack my writing anew...until the next child comes into my space for some "time" alone with Mom.

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  22. Interuptions give some time to think.
    Really sorry you're still in a fog.

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  23. Glad to hear you are slowly getting better!!!

    I think there are often times that the interruption is needed. I've spent so much time at the computer writing junk only to write junk because I am blocked, when the interruption allows time for me to iron out my thoughts and put the puzzle together. Stepping away really helps.

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  24. I hope you are better soon. And yeah, I think that being open to what comes in the form of interruptions can open doors we didn't know existed. Thank you for the reminder!!

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  25. Glad to hear you're feeling better! Sometimes I think an interruption is just what I need to find the word I'm looking for or know where to go next with the plot. I think I need to get my mind on something else for a minute for it to come up with the answer I'm looking for.

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  26. Glad to hear you're feeling better! Sometimes I think an interruption is just what I need to find the word I'm looking for or know where to go next with the plot. I think I need to get my mind on something else for a minute for it to come up with the answer I'm looking for.

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  27. The occasional interruption is necessary for my sanity! Otherwise I'd kill myself with working and working and not doing anything else.

    Jai

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  28. Great to see you back, Lynda! missed ya.

    I spent the whole weekend doing writers guild stuff. But it did help - communing with other writers. All summer, I am interrupted by the observatory. it's OK. I watch and observe and get inspired. Refill my tanks.

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  29. Stephen, I'm always writing something stupid..but you make a good point: that interruptions are sometimes divine appointments we should be thankful for.

    Rachna, oh yes they are irritating, but you are right they do teach us a lot.

    WritingNut, that's so great to hear. It's always great coming back from a break with a clearer vision and it's even better when we know the flaws we see are fixable.

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  30. Jan, indeed...still working on it...

    Amanda, yes, it's finding that happy medium where we know when we need a break and don't fight it.

    Ellie, that's so true. As they say, we sometimes can't see the forest for the trees, but stepping back helps us to see the forest again.

    Jennifer, yes, breaks/interruptions certainly help to clear the mind and unexpectedly trigger creativity.

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  31. Laura, it's amazing how often I don't realise I need a break. So, in that way, interruptions are great! ;)

    Dez, my creative energy is currently fit to burst and make a mess on the carpet...but all I wanna do is put my head down on my pillow. RAWR!!!

    Clarissa, Good to hear you got a break too.

    Victoria, walks are the best. I don't know what it is about them but they really do help with creativity. With five children I bet you get a lot of inspiration -- regardless (or because of) the interruptions.

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  32. Alex, depending on the interruption, I agree.

    Jen, sometimes writing junk is necessary to push through a block, but you are right: interruptions often help to clear the mind.

    Paul, yes, interruptions also offer other opportunities as well.

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  33. Susan, I'm the same. If I'm thinking of something else it helps me to move away from an avenue that's not working so I can approach the writing problem from a different direction.

    Jai, lol, that's a good way of putting it.

    M Pax, thanks :) You get so much enjoyment from the observatory I don't see it as an interruption (not in the normal sense anyway). It's definitely a tank refiller. :)

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  34. I'm glad you're getting better. But I love your perspective. Interruptions are opportunities! Wonderful thought!

    I can't think of an example at the moment, but as soon as I hit "Publish your comment," it'll come. :)

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  35. I'm so sorry you haven't been feeling well. I hope you get better soon.

    I think interruption is expected, both good and bad. I hate interruption, but it happens.

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  36. Janet, hehe, I do that all the time. I think of answers or ideas at the worst possible times ;)

    Carolyn, thanks. They are definitely expected! Sigh... ;)

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  37. Yeah - how about six years? I had always known I wanted to be a writer and written a great many things, but life kind of intervened when I had my son and I was too busy working to keep up with much writing. But over that period of time, I got lots of ideas, and one came to the forefront, until it was practically bursting out of my head. So, when I finally got serious about writing, I wrote 85,000 words in about two months. Sometimes a little pent up frustration can be a good thing.

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  38. Alexia, great story..it's true, time off from writing is never really time off because we are always filling our minds with ideas.

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