A popular post from 2012
By: Josi Kilpack
A few months ago I was talking with some friends and explaining that I
used to be able to watch TV or listen to music while I wrote, but
lately I can't do it. My mind is split between the things going on and I
end up frustrated. Marion Jensen put into words what I was getting
to--that our brain has two modes, consumption and production, and while
some people need background noise, or learn to drown out other things,
most people can't do both at one time. At least not well.
got me thinking about how this concept has worked for me. When my
children were small, I could write with them running around my ankles,
with Barney in the background, and giggles bouncing off the wall. It
wasn't 'peaceful' writing and I only had short snippets of time but it
was my only option and I was able to make it work. I wrote my first 8
books this way. As my kids have gotten older, I have gotten better at
making quiet time to write in and apparently I've been amazingly
successful at my goal to write peacefully because, other than plain
piano music, I can no longer listen to music or watch TV while I write.
While I used to be able to block out all kinds of things, I struggle to
have many distractions this days and rarely write if I don't have at
least 2 hours to put into it. The writing environment is very personal
to each writer, but something worth evaluating on occasion.
the other part of this concept is the need to consume in order to
produce when you have that time and place that best serves you. In order
to give our best work, we need to be consuming information and ideas;
processing the world at large so that we can put those things into our
own work. I remember when I was breastfeeding and struggling to keep up
with the demands of my baby. My midwife had to remind me that I had to
eat and eat and eat and drink and drink or drink or my body could not
produce enough for my baby. For her to consume what she needed, I had to
do the same for production sake.
Not everyone consumes
the same way. I have many friends who read 50 plus novels a year. I am
in awe of it. I don't read nearly that much, but I watch a lot of TV and
movies--while I'm cleaning or cooking or avoiding my writing :-). In
the past I have tried to cut down on my TV watching and while I'm sure
it's good for me to limit the time the TV is on in a lot of ways, it is stifling for my mind when it comes to
creating plots. Over and over again something will happen in a show that
will spark an idea for a character, or twist, or location.
know people who feel the same awakening from music, that listening to
certain types or certain artists helps their brain kick into gear. Other
people listen to audio books when they don't have time to sit and read.
Other's watch Movies, or favorite TV shows, and others people-watch in
public places, or engage all different types of people in conversation.
Different personalities will seek out different things, but the
important thing is that every writer is consuming. We need to become
sponges, soaking up information, learning about people, observing
weirdos in their natural habitat, learning about occupations, time
periods, cultures, illnesses, lifestyles, religions, and personality
types. We need to keep our reserves full if we're going to pour truth
into our words and make our stories feel real to our readers.
love to hear what types of consumption allows you to write at your
best. What have you learned? Where do you go for inspiration?