Thursday, August 20, 2009

Conference Table Time

It's recently been brought to my attention that I rarely blog about writing - my process, what I'm going through, my problems or my triumphs. I'll be honest and say that this is probably because I don't feel like I have any authority to be telling anyone anything on writing. Despite the fact that Afterburn has done fairly well, I'm still waiting for them to ask for their money back. I will say that it wasn't an intentional oversight on my part. I just don't think my process (or really my life) is that interesting. I've been told I'm wrong.

If you've been on the Playground long you've probably heard me mention my bathtub or conference table time. What is that you ask? Well, this is my process for getting my head in the game, so to speak. I have two very different writing processes depending on where I am.

If I'm writing at home chances are I'm doing it at night after the girls go to bed which means I'm in the bathtub. Yep, I write in the bathtub. I'm not exactly sure how this habit started. I vaguely remember thinking that I always came out of the shower with thoughts of my book whirling in my head. Many times I'd find myself firing up the computer at 10 at night because I'd started getting ready for bed and inspiration had struck instead. One night I wondered if the same brilliance would strike in the bath as in the shower and I was surprised when it did. No, I do not take paper or my laptop into the bathtub. I do, however, take my alphasmart. And in at least four years of doing this have never once dropped it into the water (the lip of my whirlpool tub is rather large).

I think this process works for me for two reasons. First, there's just something about warm water, steamy air and the muted lights of the bathroom that seems to click on the creative side of my brain. Second, I think the bathroom is about the only place in my house where I'm not constantly interrupted by, "Mommy!" I can lock the door and bring my focus down completely to my book.

Now, if I'm at work, that isn't exactly an option. Not just for the fact that we don't have a bathtub in the place. I have a hard enough time writing love scenes when I'm in the office. And while the chances of hearing, "Mommy!" drop drastically when I walk in the office door the chances of the phone ringing or the printer running out of ink increases exponentially. I've found that my writing time at work is better in the afternoon (when everyone else is sleepy and lethargic from lunch). But the problem is so am I. To combat that and get my brain in the right frame of mind - jumping from crunching numbers to conflicts - I have to focus. Laying on the conference table might look silly (and I'll be the first to admit that I have never let anyone actually catch me doing it) but there's something about staring up at the blank, white drop ceiling that makes me concentrate. let me tell you, those white tiles are boring. If the table weren't so hard I'd probably fall asleep. But usually within five minutes of climbing up there I've got a scene playing through my head.

So, that's my crazy process for writing. PC has mentioned in the past that when she was in college she had to put on her shoes before she could write a paper. Writers, do you have any zany habits that help get your creative juices flowing? Readers, are you interested in knowing how warped and weird we really are? Are there any other questions you've always wanted to ask about how we do what we do?


P.S. The winner from yesterday's blog is Gigi! Please send your snail mail info to Playground Monitor. Prizes not claimed in 7 days will be re-awarded.


Christine said...

The bathtub--wow! That's brave. I do get inspired during my shower, and I'm scrabbling for post its and paper to write my ideas as soon as I get semi-dry. But I don't think I'll ever write in the tub. In fact, the only thing I've done in the new tub is soak my feet.

Where I write depends largely upon 3 things: stage of writing, comfort levels, and chauffeur duties.

First drafts are usually plunked out in my office as are most of the tougher revisions. Spit and polish happens at the kitchen table, or the couch, or wherever.

However, heat levels and butt pain will change my locations. I am like a cat. In the winter, my office is so cold, I head to my bedroom and sit on the bed or a chair to write. It's the warmest room in the house. And I suffer from chronic pain, so if I am hurting a lot (usually in the shiny hiney :O), I travel all over the house--couch, chair with cushions, bed. And if I am in chauffeur mode, I write at the coffee shop. I edit and highlight scenes in doctor/dentist/optometrist offices, dance studios, voice lesson studios, and in the car waiting for darling daughter to emerge from school.

Playground Monitor said...

I wonder if the bath/shower works so well for folks because warm water serotonin -- the feel-good chemical in your brain.

I have little note pads all over the house for jotting down notes. I've never written in the tub. I hardly take baths at all because they dry out my skin, and it's hard to read or write in the shower. ::grin::

I'm still working on my process. Maybe I need to try the kitchen table.

Problem Child said...

If it works, don't knock it.

Yes, in college I had to wear shoes when I worked on papers. Bare feet meant playtime; shoes meant work. I sat unbathed in my pjs at the computer with shoes on more than one occasion.

Funny, though, I don't have to do that now. Hmmm, maybe I should try it sometime and see if it jolts me into "think/write" mode.

But I do still put on shoes when I clean house. ~shrugs~

Liza said...

I love to read/hear about the process for each writer. Gives me a little insight into their world. If I'm trying to work out a problem, sometimes I'll soak in the tub. I think I get so relaxed I can think more clearly.

Smarty Pants said...

I'm not sure if it qualifies, but have trained myself to write almost exclusively at work. (Don't tell my boss.) I can easily work around assignments, phone calls, discussions, emails and a million interruptions. I'm a psychotic multitasker, so I just pop back and forth.

But now, its almost impossible for me to write at home. If and when I get to write full time, I will have a MAJOR adjustment period.

Angel said...

I've tried the tub thing and it definitely works! A little harder for me, since I don't have a big tub, but even sitting cross legged in the water, facing my alphie on the lip, will work. Unfortunately, it isn't routine for me, so when I'm stuck I don't think, "Hey, I should try the tub tonight." I wish it did. Ugh!

I love to write in my bed, and have also been known to hit the couch on occassion. For plotting, exercise time really helps. Oddly, I don't seem to think about anything in the shower. Its almost like my brain shuts down, because I come out not having pondered much. :)


Misty Wright said...

I've tried the bathtub thing, but with so many kids. It never works. Plus the tub isn't very big either. Darn it! One day I will have a nice big tub and it will work out for me. :)

I do think of things in the shower and have learned I have to write them down when I get out or I forget. HAHA.

I do most of my writing at my desk, which is in my bedroom. I can close the door and hubby will tell the kids to leave me alone. This helps.

At times I need a change and will go to the library, bookstore, cafe, or park. As long as I can keep the books from calling to me or the sunny day to make me stop looking around, I'm good. :D

Another thing that works for me is walking. There is something about walking that gets my ideas flowing and if I have someone to talk to about them that is even better.

I have a few writer friends and my hubby that I can talk to about my plots and problems. This is the BIGGEST help of all.

Paula R said...

Hi, I don't really have a process yet, so it is very interesting to read about what other authors do. I think that writing in the bathtub is awesome...I usually lock myself up in the bathroom to read, which seems to make the work and images more profound, so maybe there is just something about being in the bathroom. Crazy, I know. When writing papers, I just get the spark of an idea about the topic, then I write longhand, about a page and a half or two, then I could settle down and type. The thing is that once I get started, I write until I am empty. I am not sure how that process will work when it comes to writing a full length novel. The thing is, it works for me, so I might have to find a job that is not as constricting so that I could continue in that vain. I get inspiration at the weirdest, and sometimes, most inappropriate times, so I have to figure that one out too.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I do get ideas in the shower, but I've never tried to write in the tub. In fact, though I have a lovely jetted tub, I think I've used it three times in 2 years. I'm not a tub person. :)

I write where I have to, basically. These days, deadlines are short and fast, so I work as needed. I do find I need a change of venue from time to time. If the words aren't coming at home, I go to Starbucks or the wine bar. If I'm having trouble at my office chair, I move to the couch with my laptop.

I used to think there was a muse, etc, but the more I write, the more I believe it's simply a matter of showing up and going to work. Even when I resist mightily, I find that the words and ideas start to come when I force myself to stare at the document and think.

Christine said...

Lynn: where is the wine bar? I'd like to write there :)