Saturday, February 26, 2011

Riding That Mental Train

For the past few days I’ve been using my creativity in other ways than writing. Most of all, I crocheted. That doesn’t seem like much on the surface. In a very real sense it was time well spent.
Not only did I end up with a beautiful, hand-made gift for a writer friend of mine, but during those hours with yarn and hook, I worked out the primary outline for an adult novel. I learned the complete backstory of the main character, some of the secrets held by secondary characters, decided whether the book would be a mystery, romance, basic mainstream effort, or something else. That's a good couple of days.
Letting the Juices Flow
I consider that working. Others may disagree. When characters come calling, though, I tend to listen to their pitches at least. I can always say “yay” or “nay” later to any proposed project.
This one kept my interest without even trying. A woman trained to be subservient and expected to remain in her role is old hat, I know. What if that woman leads a separate and secret life? That’s the premise of the novel. Add a death and the writer—me—has something that can go in several directions.
That’s why I crocheted. That singular activity allows my mind freedom to roam the prospects of plotting, character development, etc. while still producing something else at the same time. Sewing can’t do the job; too much concentration and focus required.
Crocheting, on the other hand, can be as mindless or focused as a person wants to make it. It equates to plotting in the shower for me. And every writer knows that the best ideas come while your head is under water.
Don’t You Already Have a Project?
Why, yes, I do Thank you for remembering.
How many writers do you know who only work on one thing at a time? Not many, I’d wager.
Since this project is a total change from the others on my current list of projects, I can use it for a focus breaker. When I need a complete mental shift in gears from working on a short story, queries, articles, or the camping book, I’ll use this project. The focus is different, the characters unique and engaging, and the storyline, for now, remains close to my surface thoughts.
This novel can act as a trampoline of sorts. I hope it will act as a springboard of ideas for use in auxiliary projects that are already on my list. That’s how my creative mind works most of the time. Working on one story triggers ideas for bits of business on others.
What Now?
I’ve already begun the characters studies. Most of them are finished and waiting for use. Putting together chapter outlines comes next. I wish I knew exactly what was going to happen in the middle. Since I haven’t figured out that part yet, I’ll just have to wing that section for the moment. It will come clear soon.
I will use this creative time to get done what is already flowing on this novel. In a week or so my Muse will return to the travel book, a few queries, some submissions, and scheduling for the rest of our time here in Oklahoma. I have quite a bit planned for the next several weeks.
There you have it. That’s how things work for me on occasion. I’ll start one thing and something entirely different will pull me away from it for an indefinite period. The odd part is that when I do return to the original project, I have renewed vigor to work with it, new ideas or insights, and a tighter focus.
It’s almost as if my mind needed that vacation to rid itself of a niggling distraction so that it could concentrate on the big WIP. I could try to control it. The problem lies in the fact that when I do that, it takes over my dream life and I don’t get restful sleep. And I need all the restful type sleep I can get.
So when that steaming mental train of yours decides to take a spur line for a hitherto unknown destination, go with it for s while and see where it takes you. You might just find yourself in marvelous new territory.
Until we come together again, enjoy your life and write to your heart’s content.


  1. "When characters come calling, though, I tend to listen to their pitches at least. I can always say “yay” or “nay” later to any proposed project." I love that line!

    Also, I love how you work through your plotting process! I love to knit, myself. And I understand very well how this kind of crafting can contribute hugely to bigger projects--like novels!

  2. I took up stained glass 2 years ago but have not touched it for a year. There just isnt enough time to work full-time and have 2 hobbies!

    By the way, I've nominated your blog for the Onle Lovely Blog award. I always love your postings. Go to for futher details. Happy blog awarding! LOL