Confession #6: When I’m staring out the window daydreaming (or doing any number of things that might look like time-wasters), I’m actually working.
I’ve been trying to get out of the house one morning a week to head to my local coffee shop. I order my tea and breakfast and settle down in my usual spot looking out the window. At any point during my writing session, you’re likely to find me staring at the people walking by on the sidewalk or the train chugging over the bridge. This isn’t me procrastinating; it’s me working.
Seriously, though, daydreaming is work for an author. There is actual scientific research that says that daydreaming is important, imperative even, to the creative process. Allowing the conscience mind to wander sends the subconscious mind to work on the problem (in my case, whatever story/character/language issue I’ve been obsessing over). I’ve mentioned on the blog before how my brain often works out tricky plot points in the shower, while I’m not even necessarily thinking about that story or writing in general.
Activating the creative process goes beyond daydreaming for an author. People-watching is another activity that may look like procrastination, but it’s actually great story fodder. I find people-watching gets me thinking about character, not only how a character might look, but their mannerisms, speech patterns, and their backstory.
Observation of any surrounding is great for the “What If” game. Pick a person and pose a what-if question about them. Take two teenage girls walking around a mall, one chatting away, the other checking her phone, barely paying attention to the first. Give them a what if: What if chatty girl is dating a boy, but her boyfriend is the one texting phone girl? Now that leads to a whole bunch of other questions. What is boyfriend texting phone girl about? A surprise party for chatty girl, a secret rendezvous with phone girl? How long have boyfriend and chatty girl been dating? How long have chatty girl and phone girl been friends? See what a little people-watching and “What If” game can do for getting the creative juices flowing.
For an author, reading is work too. Whether I’m reading to stay current on the book market, reading to absorb the excellent writing of authors I admire, or reading to see what kind of books out there are like mine and what I can do differently. Even when I’m reading for pure pleasure, I’m still working, though it’s more of a working by osmosis in that case.
What things do you do that may seem like goofing off but are really work?
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