Wednesday, November 28, 2018

What Gets the Ink on the Page

By David E. Sharp

Writers are a creative group. And with creativity comes idiosyncrasy.

Admit it! You have weird habits!

Do you consume copious amounts of coffee like Honoré de Balzac? Or, are you more in line with Faulkner and Hemingway; maybe you consume something stronger?

Don't question the process.
This is where the magic happens. 

Do you color code? Dickens and Carroll both wrote in colored ink, Alexander Dumas used color-coded paper, and James Joyce wrote with crayons on cardboard. It's true.

Why do writers have such strange behaviors?

Maybe these weird quirks are brain hacks. Tricks to unlock all that hidden creativity. Or maybe it's the paper fumes. I do love the smell of fresh paper. Either way, there's something amok with our brain chemistry. 

Something that creates a tendency to odd habits, but also somehow contributes to remarkable creativity. Could you still produce a manuscript without your "lucky fedora"? Maybe. But what's the point of that?

Quiz: Can you locate the writer in this picture?
Answer: Of course not! Abstract shapes are incapable of thought!

Perhaps you haven't figured out your quirks yet.

Don't worry, there's still time! There are all kinds of weird things you can try to spur on inspiration.

Some writers need animals nearby (a cat for Edgar Allen Poe and poultry for Flannery O'Connor), some write standing up (Virginia Woolf), some write lying down (James Joyce again). And some eat apples in the bathtub like Agatha Christie. 

Not for you? Fear not! There are plenty of possible oddities that could qualify you to join the ranks of the eclectic. Dan Brown hangs upside down, and Victor Hugo used to deny himself clothes.

Do you feel guilty for indulging your weird habits when you think you should be typing?

You do, don't you? Don't! Rejoice in the fact that you can only compose your brilliance while wearing adult-sized knitted onesie pajamas. Take pride in the way you apply blue war paint like the ancient Celts before you type. 

Own the fact that you still speak to your childhood imaginary friend in silly accents and laugh at each other's jokes. (...Maybe keep that last one to yourself, actually.)

Oh, yeah! This is going
to be my opus!

Mine is motion.

The ideas don't come when I'm sedentary. But I can't take my desk on a walk through the park. I've tried. It took a while to get the squirrels back out. So, I plan to take walks before I write, and I always move my feet when I type. 

I fidget with things on my desk, and I frequently wander away from the screen mid-sentence to collect my thoughts. It drives people crazy to watch, but what can I do?

It gets the ink on the page.

What works for you?


The Writing Guy said...

We need our talismans, amulets, and rituals to protect us on perilous adventures. Holmes had his pipe. He also had Watson! I’ve got a rock inscribed, ‘Really?’
It sits on my old desk beside a window, looking out at trees, the sky, birds, and squirrels. I can't write there. What works for me is a public library, a coffee shop, even a bus stop proves more productive. You can’t just sit there staring and smiling at people in these places. You need a purpose.
There’s something about the white noise, the milling about. It’s not a distraction, it’s an inspiration to get busy, focus and write. That’s why I’m there, to write. Really. Or really nuts, not sure.

Patricia Stoltey said...

My desk sits near a window with a wide windowsill where my cat sits to watch clever upside down birds (pygmy nuthatch and woodpecker) scamper around the ash tree in the front yard. I do work there (at my desk, not in the tree) most of the time.

I hate noise while I work. I don't play music and can't work in a coffee shop. I need a hot drink on hand in winter and iced tea in summer. And clutter. I don't feel I'm being productive if my office is tidy.

Ronda Simmons said...

I'm the opposite of Patricia, I need a very tidy office or I cannot focus. I almost always have a candle burning and a sleeping dog nearby.

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