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When I saw this article about Arnon Grunberg undergoing an experiment that involved being encased in a multi-electrode skull cap (not to mention the oh-so-tiny and cramped room in which he was writing), my teeth started to hurt!  I cannot even have my hair in a ponytail as it feels like too much pressure, thereby staunching the creative flow.  Good for him – I look forward to the results!

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/30/books/arnon-grunberg-is-writing-while-connected-to-electrodes.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

The Distraction Queen's Crown

The Distraction Queen’s Crown

I met the author of a book-in-progress a few days ago and she talked about her desire to appeal to readers that were closet fantasizers (is that really a proper word?).  Her novel was about an adult woman who lived in a fairy tale world where naughty and erotic were part of her daily experiences.  At first I thought, “Oh what fun that would be!” and visions of the next big Fifty Shades of Grey danced about in my head.  We all know what kind of creative spontaneous combustion flowed out of writer E.L. James’ mid-life crisis for that trilogy!

My discussion with the new novelist moved from the fun part of writing such a dare-to-be-bare project to how much hard work it is.  And how much time it takes.  And how painfully easy it is to be distracted away from the challenge.

86px-White_Tailed_SquirrelWe humans, writers in particular, are like self-disciplined performance dogs – until a squirrel darts across the road in front of us.  And then we are off on the chase- word counts, pages, deadlines, grumpy editors and undeveloped characters left spinning in our forgotten whirlwind of dust as we pursue the latest thing (or rodent) that snatches our attention away.

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to distraction and I have attended countless lectures on how to focus and I have read mountains of articles on the very same thing.  The truth of it is, is that writing is VERY HARD work!  And when you have stopped laughing, let me tell you that the next time someone says to me, “Must be nice to sit at home in your bathrobe all day and write – like a permanent vacation really”, the next thing I’ll be writing is my parole plea, begging for an early release from my assault with a weapon charge!

I know why I’m distracted.  Two reasons:

•    Its bloody hard work and I know that if I really focus and get 25 pages cranked out today, I will be a silent, empty shell of a human being by bedtime.  It’s very draining and I’d like to at least feel I’ve got the energy to eat a nice dinner with my husband, go for a walk and then sneak in 30 minutes of an old Will and Grace episode, before drooling onto the couch pillows, deep in a sleep coma.

The Sleep Coma

The Sleep Coma

•    The second reason is that I just KNOW someone will want something from me just as I’m in top gear, racing toward the end of an absolutely AWESOME article, the contents likely destined for a genius designation by a renowned editor of a major publication.  And my bubble of wonderfully creative inspiration will be popped like an over-inflated balloon.  And writers, you know that space in time can never be reset once it’s been upset.

So there are my two excuses for procrastinating in my writing.  And here are my two solutions:

•    It’s bloody hard work?  So what! I’ve done some pretty crappy work in my lifetime which includes digging latrines when I was in the army.  So I just need to remind myself of that when sitting in my comfy chair and the only tool I need to dig with is my imagination.  It doesn’t matter that I’ll be mentally drained at the end of the day.  When I was digging latrines all day a hundred years ago, tired included a very sore body, calluses and my dignity beaten like a rented donkey.

•    Interruptions will NOT be tolerated people!  The closed door with the Do Not Disturb sign on it is to be respected as if it was a grenade with the pin half way out.  Dare to knock. Or even worse; just crack open the door unannounced and the pin will fall out completely. I guarantee that it won’t be my direction that the door pops off its hinges.  I need to be very clear that my living (and my soul-feeding love) depends on my crazy alone time behind that door.

So here I sit, reassured that I have successfully dethroned the Distraction Queen, her crown doing a fast wobble-roll down the street as she chases after it with indignation.  And I am alone in my writer’s bubble, latrine-digging gloves on and pin set on the grenade.  No excuses this time your Highness.

Clarity

Clarity

An entire continent could be built as a reclamation project with all the books, articles, blogs and inspirational posters produced on the art and mechanics of writing.  I have adopted the popular mantra that I will take what I want and leave the rest as the quantity is far too time consuming and overwhelming.

The one true thing I can attest to after all these years is that conforming to the rules creates the biggest “block” for me.  I always understood a block to be a barrier between the creative brain and the pen (or keyboard).  I have a better understanding of that word after spending the past 6 days living in the forest with a group of fantastic human beings who, although not writers, had the same mission I did and that was to achieve clarity and a center of peace. It was a non-addiction rehabilitation program of sorts and the discovery that I was a co-dependent (a bit of an addiction in itself) was incredibly freeing as that nasty little characteristic has an amazing ability to steal your energy, stunt your creative growth and leave you feeling like a crazy person.

Hours upon hours of talking, trusting, meditating, walking among the ancient forest growth and finally GETTING IT  – that trying to control situations through our words and actions to avoid the worst-case outcome, merely creates the true manifestation of that very thing!  What we want most to NOT happen, still does….regardless of how crazy we become in our attempt to ensure it doesn’t. That is the nature of the universe so why break down some perfectly good brain cells and stress some perfectly good internal organs by trying to change that?

The same thing can be true when it comes to writing.  When I am desperate to complete a project and I am focusing on the format, the punctuation, those restrictive submission guidelines…….what spills out onto the screen tends to, quite often, be exactly what I did not want to say in my writing.

I do believe strongly in writing what is “real” for readers, whether it be a blog, a sales ad, a research piece, a humour or how-to article or even a fictional story or novel.  Fake is big on the radar for most people and pretentious or arrogant writing, presented from a “look how smart I am” level, turns readers off faster than a boring subplot about coin collecting.

Forcing the words to sound right can sometime be like trying to pull a boat anchor through a knothole in a tree trunk.  No longer swimming against the proverbial tide is incredibly peaceful so although I may not conform to the “rules” at times, I am doing what feels good by letting my fingers and the keys take me where they want to and in the long run, it helps the universe roll along like it is intended.  I love to write, my readers love what I am writing and I am experiencing an overwhelming sense of peace.  I wish I had figured this out decades ago but as I unequivocally learned last week, regrets are a waste of time and energy and need to be filed permanently in the shoulda, woulda, coulda folder.

The present moment is the place in which we must learn to live so that the future unfolds as intended while keeping our brain’s and internal organ’s health in check.  And it is nice thing to feel just a little bit less crazy.

Sitting on a plane a few years ago, my writing muse came back to me.  I think she might have just been waiting up there in the clouds  for the time the tenuous umbilical cord from earth to me had temporarily parted so I could let go of what kept my conscious mind creatively blocked.  Since then, I find the words that work come freely and easily to me each time I am disconnected from earth beneath my feet and real world from my everyday life.  The same thing happens when I am at sea.

Hence Plane2Pen was born as the creative juices are a dam breaking free by the time I am back on solid ground.  If I had my “druthers”, I would have a plane or a ship on standby every time I needed or wanted to write but reality is that it can be an expensive and rather inconvenient way to prompt my muse.  So I’ve developed a writing method for myself that allows me to put myself either “up there” or “out in the chuck” and it works – I don’t question the spirit world when it comes to writing tools!  🙂

Total Disconnect = Freedom to Create

Total Disconnect = Freedom to Create