When I was a kid, we played all kinds of playground games. Red Light, Green Light, Simon Says, Kick the Can, and Mother May I? All games most of us have played and still do in our writing life. My favorite one is Mother May I (the rest of them deserve their own blog). The good news is you’re Mother. Unfortunately, that’s also the bad news.
Mother, may I write? Yes. All you need to do is prepare. Unfortunately and fortunately, there are all those little irritants like kids (no matter what the age), a husband, pets, or a boss out there just waiting to chip off chunks of your precious time. Think of them as opportunities to be creative. Not a problem…that’s your business. When you have to run errands, stick a notebook in your purse or car. I figure that’s what that little pocket’s for on the inside of the door. It sure isn’t big enough to hold much else. When you’re waiting for the doctor, dentist, or teacher’s meeting, jot down ideas, a few lines of dialogue, or a description. Even if you never use it, it’s good practice.
Mother, may I study my craft? You betcha. When you’re out, notice people. How they react to others, quirky things they do, their body language and speech patterns. When someone interesting comes along, do not follow them around taking notes. The police will be called and you will be in trouble. Instead, make a note that will bring them back to mind. It’s cheaper than bail, and no one looks good in a mug shot.
Restaurants are great places to watch people. Eaters do very interesting things. Hey, a great idea for another blog. See how that works?
Working retail is invaluable when studying craft. You can tell a lot about someone by the way they leave a dressing room, or the way they treat the clerk. A word to the wise, don’t be
rude to an “associate” in a store. You never know which one is a school teacher (maybe your child’s next year), a U.S. Marshall who will leak your WITSEC location, a police officer who will remember you and give you a ticket, or a writer who will use you in the pages of a book. I’ve worked with all of them.
Mother, may I take a walk? Yes, especially if you ate too much cotton candy at the State Fair like I did. A walk, or whatever you do for exercise, is a great way to rejuvenate the brain
cells. Your body is busy sweating and sending endorphins to your brain which in turn, will be ready sit back down to work. I get some of my best ideas while walking. It’s amazing what you can come up with given a little stimulus, fresh air, and the time to let your mind wander. Chocolate isn’t bad either, but I’ve been told bending your elbow doesn’t technically classify as exercise unless there’s a barbell in your hand. I think it’s all a matter of how big the piece
of chocolate is.
It isn’t convenient to haul a tablet with you when you’re on the treadmill or walking. So consider one of those little recorders. Or, simply call home and leave yourself a message.
The trick is to play the game by your rules. Give yourself permission to be creative and have the tools to take advantage of your musings. Take a minute to prepare and go out there,
eavesdrop, watch, and free your mind to all those great ideas.