I used to think writing was a solitary activity. A picture of a lone person in a dimly lit room, surrounded by leather-bound books, wielding a fountain pen comes to mind when I think of an author. A cigarette might rest forgotten in an ashtray; an undefined drink rests half-full on the corner of the desk. Perhaps a dog might be curled up on an old rag-rug that covers the imperfections of the hardwood floor. I wonder how many other people hold this image of a writer in their heads.
I can’t write like that. The silence deadens my creativity and dim lights kill my eyes. I don’t smoke, and the drink on the corner of my desk can be recognized as Smirnoff Ice or even just a coffee. There is often a dog curled up at my feet – but she’s on bare linoleum and usually begging for the munchies I have close at hand. I can’t even remember the last time I held a fountain pen in my hand, or any other writing instrument, for that matter.
The more distractions I have, the more productive I seem to be. My music of choice can be anything from light acoustical guitar sounds to raunchy, hardcore punk ruckus. In addition to Word being open on my laptop, Facebook, Twitter, Authonomy, Blogspot and GoodReads can all be found waiting at my fingertips. They easily provide a minute or two of distraction between plot points, bits of dialogue or lengthy descriptive paragraphs. Is this writing ADD?
I don’t write on a schedule, if I try, nothing comes out. I just sit and stare blankly at the screen. However, when I know the house is a mess and my parents are due to visit within the hour, the story demands to be written and just can’t wait. When my children need dinner or help with their homework, my characters insist on being heard. When it’s the wee hours of the morning and my body should be sleeping, my brain decides to wake up and be productive.
The best part about being a writer in today’s world is the constant interaction with other writers. I think I would go crazy without it. They understand that your characters are giving you trouble and refuse to be written they way you intended; they fully grasp the importance of using a semi-colon over a comma or a full-stop. Most importantly, they are encouraging, supportive and always offering up words of wisdom from their own stockpile of writerly experience.
So – thanks to all of you who make writing the adventure it’s meant to be. It’s comforting to know that writing isn’t meant to be a solitary practice after all.