The Writer’s Mind

02 Feb

About a month ago, I watched a Stephen King movie starring Pierce Brosnan. Pierce played a successful writer, yet now sat staring at his computer screen, struggling with writer’s block to the point of nearly sweating blood. That’s not the only time I’ve seen writers struggling to write on the big screen. Writers are also portrayed as eccentric and maybe it’s because they can spend hours alone writing at the computer without the need to see another, wearing a bathrobe all day and mumbling to themselves. I usually make it out of my bathrobe in the morning and do see others, but I know I can be in my own little world, not always paying attention, but I can usually get away with it as my family somehow still loves me.

In actuality, the writer’s mind may not be much different than any other brain; however, sometimes something happens in the sub-conscious where ideas flow naturally or even seem to come out of the blue. Perhaps that is where talent lies for other occupations as well, not only can one have the skills but also the enjoyment that comes along with it to make one continue a project until it is finished.

But then there are those times when the ideas don’t flow, what many would call writer’s block. For example, when I’m not working on my work in progress what passes through my mind is in quotes below and it goes something like this:

Typing my story:
Sally walked along the sidewalk with her hand in her purse and her eyes on a smudge of dirt on the toe of her new Prada shoe.

Typing stops, I’m thinking:
I better turn on the radio for some background noise. There. Good song.

Stopping, she took her other hand and wiped the dirt off her shoe.

Typing stops, I’m thinking:
I think I’ll have some walnuts. I’ve read they’re good for me. No, maybe some yogurt – less calories. That was good. Now, what should I make for dinner? Okay, I’ll get some chicken out of the freezer. Then maybe vacuum the floor.

Finally typing:
She looked up into steely blue eyes above shoulders the size of a quarterback’s and let out a squeak – no, breath of air – and stopped on her toes.

Typing stops, I’m thinking:
I better check to see if I got an email from my editor. I’ll just skim over the other emails ….and then get back to writing.

“Excuse me!” she said, appalled she’d almost mowed down this man. She looked him up and down…

Well, you get the picture. Now I’m not obsessed with food and I’m of average weight, but the truth of it is, this is what can go through a writer’s mind if he or she doesn’t have a plan. If the writer doesn’t have a plan when she sits her behind on the chair, she can definitely waste her time.

Many writers say they don’t use an outline to write a story. I wrote five without an outline. Back in those days, I had a more leisurely schedule. My writing time has suddenly become more important since I sold a manuscript, then two more, and I’d like to finish writing another one within the next year as this is best practice for my publishing house. Times have changed for me; no longer can I pursue the business of writing without a plan. It’s a different world than when I started out writing. I now need some sort of an outline to follow, whether I look at it step by step or not. I also need to write down how much time I will spend reading email, twittering, face book, blog, and getting my name out there online. Currently, no matter the size of your publishing house, you are expected to get your book out there on the world wide web.

Believe me, I don’t want to sit in my bathrobe all day typing, but have more of a balance. Yet, the time I do have to write needs to be as productive as it can be and for me that means a plan will have to be in place, so that my writer’s mind will flow naturally. Yep, Pierce’s character needed a plan, too.


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21 responses to “The Writer’s Mind

  1. Liz Fredericks

    February 2, 2012 at 7:17 AM

    I laughed at your mental dialogue as you looked at the screen. This is so true. I guess that I’d add laundry, checking for texts, walking the dogs, telling the dogs to stop barking . . . 😉

    • Mary Vine

      February 2, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      Yeah, but if I wrote all the things I was thinking about it would make my post too long!

  2. johannaharness

    February 2, 2012 at 7:17 AM

    Yes. We get where we’re going a lot more quickly when we actually know where we’re going. 🙂

    • Mary Vine

      February 2, 2012 at 12:49 PM

      Hopefully, I will remember your very words, Johanna. Often.

  3. Janis McCurry

    February 2, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    I plan to do that. ROTFLOL!

    • Mary Vine

      February 2, 2012 at 12:53 PM

      For all those who don’t know what ROTFLOL means, it’s Rolling On The Floor Laughing Out Loud. I had to look it up. Thanks, Janis, for the smile and helping me learn something new!

  4. Meredith Conner

    February 2, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    I usually write with an outline these days and even then, upon occasion, my mind still follows that same track. Sigh.

    • Mary Vine

      February 2, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      But when we finally get going it’s a beautiful space to be in.

  5. ramblingsfromtheleft

    February 2, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    Thanks for a thoughtful post.

    Mary, I wonder if you would have found the same end results at some other point before pubication? I think sooner or later, whether pushed by the needs of agents and publishers, or self-driven to madness, at some point we all need a plan. Helter-skelter doesn’t cut it 🙂

    • Mary Vine

      February 2, 2012 at 1:05 PM

      Yeah, good question. A student in class this morning had a t-shirt that said:
      10 Reasons Why I Procastinate.

  6. Laura Dion-Jones

    February 2, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    I believe our old pal, Stephen King, calls it Voo-Doo Dancing . . . and I’m one of the undisputed International Ballroom Champs in the Voo-Doo Dance category. /’-)

    • Mary Vine

      February 2, 2012 at 1:06 PM

      Yes, I can do a few of those moves, too. 🙂 Thanks for commenting, Laura.

  7. Steph

    February 2, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    I hate doing housework and have been known to do anything to put off vacuuming or washing dishes. However, I find myself jumping up to clean when I sit down to write and don’t have a concrete plan. My house gets clean but I don’t get much writing done. Great article, Mary.

    Laura, International Ballroom Champ in the Voo-Doo dance category. ROFLMAO

    • Mary Vine

      February 2, 2012 at 1:09 PM

      Isn’t that the truth?! I can exercise more regularly than I can sit down to write. What’s up with that? Thanks, Steph.

  8. Amity Grays

    February 2, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    My biggest case of writer’s block . . . my blog.
    Proof of point . . . my blog.

    Thanks, Mary, I enjoyed this.

    • Mary Vine

      February 2, 2012 at 6:40 PM

      I know, it’s hard to keep coming up with something new. I find it’s getting faster the more I do it-I never thought that would happen!

  9. Patsy

    February 3, 2012 at 6:46 AM

    Working full time and trying to keep up with family, etc., keeps a lot of garbage running around in my mind. About the only time I can focus and write is during my breaks at work. That is where my creativity clicks in.

    • Mary Vine

      February 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

      I’ll have to try writing at work. Thanks for commenting!

  10. Clarissa Southwick

    February 3, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    Mary, Add some kids yelling, “Mom!” every 4 minutes, and this sounds a lot like my writing day. I get a lot of writing done in the orthodontist’s waiting room, probably because they can’t call me then. Thanks for a great blog, Mary.

    • Mary Vine

      February 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

      It’s good that you’ll even try to write at the orthodontist. Thanks for commenting.

  11. Lynn Mapp

    February 7, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    I would love to just write. I realized I needed a plan a few years ago. Plotting. Plotting. Plotting.


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