During the day you’re always busy doing something; working, running errands, cooking etc. And when you’re writing, your mind is also active. You’re thinking about plot line and characters, how the story should develop, how to market your book…
It’s hard to be bored nowadays. When there’s nothing to do, you still reach for your phone or tablet, or distract yourself by doing something. You don’t really ever sit down and look out the window to let your mind wander. And that means on the one hand you can organize your time, always increase your productivity and utilize your time at the optimum level. Even when you relax, you watch tv or read a book or have a conversation, but you don’t stare outside and see where your mind goes. On the other hand, by always doing something with your time, you don’t let your brain entertain itself by forcing you to be bored.
I believe that being bored is important. I believe we should take the time to stare into the air and wait for our minds to wander. And the reason for this is creativity. Because when you’re bored, that’s when your creativity switches on. Connections are formed that you wouldn’t have predicted otherwise and you can have brilliant ideas.
So even if it looks like you’re wasting your time, you’re actually letting your mind work in the background. And there’s a way you can potentially influence in which direction your mind wanders. When I was studying in school I used to quickly revise one last time before going to bed on the evening before a test, so it would be the last thing on my mind before sleeping and I would hopefully remember it better in the morning. It meant that I would dream about the subject as well. Using this, when I effectively force myself to get bored, I always start by thinking about the books I’m writing. And as time passes, my mind wanders in random directions, but at least I’ve started with my books so hopefully I can then trigger some great ideas.
Have you tried this as well? Do you get bored? And how do you “use” your time when you’re bored?
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It’s sometimes difficult to keep track of what is happening when, especially if you write a longer book, or to remember if you’ve explained something already or if it’s just in your head.
When I write, I often let my mind wonder and let the fingers type away on my keyboard. I don’t worry too much about how it works in the overall story. I have the outline of the story in the back of my mind, but I don’t interfere or direct my thoughts in any one way or another.
In draft one, I have lots of scenes and patches written. Next step is about connecting and changing them so they make sense and fit together. I don’t write the whole story in the first draft.
Often I will have many open questions that remain unanswered for months on end, until I figure out what to do with them and how they fit in the story. It can range from a character I haven’t introduced or assigned a role yet, or a scene I don’t know where to place, but it can also be insiders that hint towards something, but I haven’t yet written the corresponding part to it. I need to remember to finish that thought somewhere. For this I use footnotes in Word a lot. I use them to remind myself of plot holes or things that don’t work at the moment. Often I will forget about them until I read the footnote (hence why I always write it down). And reading them repeatedly helps me remind myself of what I still need to figure out. These footnotes accumulate in the back of my mind so when I write new parts, or rewrite parts, I will remember them and incorporate them.
I also use colours when I want to highlight something that is currently written a certain way, but needs to be rewritten, but I can’t figure out how yet.
I also highlight important things that I know will be key moments in the story, so that when I look for them or want to double-check what I wrote previously, I can quickly find it. I use this for example when I introduce a character for the first time.
How do you organize your thoughts when you write?
After starting a new story, when part of the story is somewhat fleshed out, when I have a few characters, a few important locations that will occur throughout the story, I visualize it. Not only in my head, but in pictures and drawings.
For characters I always have a picture of their faces. It may be a random person, or a fusion of several people, but I like to visualize them. It makes it easier for me to spend time with them and learn how they interact with others, what drives them, why they are the way they are. Some are based on real people, or I draw a sketch of their face, but I always have an image of some sort for all main characters.
I draw out the building plans of places that are recurring in the story like an apartment or a police precinct. This is to help me understand where the characters live and interact with others. If you write a crime story and the detective catches his colleague behaving suspiciously, it implies that he/she can see the other person from their desk. It doesn’t work if in another scene you describe he/she tucked away in a corner and discreetly drinking whisky from a flask.
I found that if I have it visually available, it allows me to be consistent, and also gives me freedom to describe the same place throughout the book instead of giving a detailed description at the beginning of the book when the police officer walks into the precinct in the morning. It can also give you more meat for your story; maybe you need that officer to switch desk because he/she can’t observe the suspicious colleague from their corner, so maybe another cop is fired from the police force and the main character is switching desk and can now observe the suspicious colleague. You can even give the fired cop a greater role and have them interact somehow in the story with the suspicious colleague, or the main character. You can communicate the tension of the story also in the description of a place, and by visualizing your characters you can give them ticks and facial expressions that may be otherwise difficult to imagine or left out completely.