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Getting Away From It All

02 Aug

“…more people should take a break from their ordinary lives to assess their future path.” – Susan Elizabeth Phillips from The Great Escape

I’ve read that JK Rowling used to write in a coffee shop or café. Some said it was because she didn’t have any heat in her flat, which she has denied. She says her daughter, Jessica, would sleep better after a walk and afterwards she’d write wherever she could get her to fall asleep. I’ve often wondered how Rowling could concentrate in such an active place. I also thought that I certainly couldn’t write in a coffee shop; I’d be too distracted.

After years of writing, I’ve changed my tune. How many times have I started to write but have had distractions? More times than not. Many of the same distractions that you’ve had, too. I don’t really need to name them, do I?

I thought back to the distractions of a time without all of the technology. We had less channels to surf on TV, but still watched plenty of programs. I’ve had years of practice being pulled away from something else to the boob tube. I remember as a teenager trying to watch TV and do my homework at the same time. Others took a good hour in the morning, or evening perusing the newspaper – my dad relaxed that way. Some, I’m sure, read books. So, even then we had enough distractions to sway our attention. Even without technology as we know it, it was not necessarily the good old days for the writer, as some would believe.

Without a doubt, I write more during the summer than during the other seasons of the year. True, I’m off work for the summer, so that would make sense that I write more at that time. When I go back to work in the fall, I’ve cut my hours down to eighteen per week. Look at the writing time I now have! Not. The extra hours to myself just make me lazier.

Now sitting here in my fifth wheel trailer in another state, I’m contemplating what escapism means. It’s not just that I left home; I still have the internet, email, Facebook, etc. I have DVDs to watch in the evenings. What’s really different is I don’t usually have laundry to do. It takes about five minutes to vacuum a fifth wheel. I serve easy, fast meals; I usually do not bake, but cook with the microwave, stove top, or barbeque. I use a lot of paper plates, so I don’t have very many dishes to do.

When I get home the TV can run nearly all day. I do laundry, vacuum and clean a whole house, grocery shop, haircuts, doctor or dentist appointments, writer’s group, visiting, company, church, baking and baking some more. No wonder why I have more time to write when I’m away. And my list of to do’s is nothing compared to someone who has children at home.

The truth is, we don’t need much to make us procrastinate, do we? Still there are those things we have to do to keep ourselves, our families, and the house going. Perhaps if we step away from home and the duties that come with it for awhile, we’ll have a little more time to write. Just do as Phillips says above: Take a break from your ordinary life.

Okay, so you don’t have a fifth wheel, you say. Point taken, but mine’s not that fancy. Rowling barely had enough money to live on when she spent time writing in a café. I think I may do better writing at a library, than a coffee shop. It’s free, your children are welcome and it’s relatively quiet. How about the park down the street?

Do you have an idea where a writer can get away to write?

http://www.maryvine.com

 

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13 responses to “Getting Away From It All

  1. Liz Fredericks

    August 2, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    Love the quote from Phillips! I think a bit of the ‘when do I write’ issue comes from ritual/routine. Ritual can be boon or barrier depending upon what we’ve habituated. I laughed the other day at reading Neysa’s reference to spider solitaire as it’s become a little ritual of mine to allow myself one game when I first sit down to write. Location matters to me (near coffee). Tools matter (mouse, keyboard, or heavy pen and paper). Reference material matters (a few pictures to spark a scene, my trusty thesaurus/dictionary). I think the biggest challenge to a writer – and it’s not a matter of physical location – is getting away ‘in your head’ to write. Having room to ponder and create instead of initiate and respond . . . so if you can do this in a coffee shop, great. But I’m with you, a library sounds wonderful.

     
    • Mary Vine

      August 2, 2012 at 11:11 AM

      Yep, Liz, getting away in your head is the most important thing. I used to do free cell before I started writing. Or, in between🙂 These days, I make too much time checking email or facebook instead. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I enjoyed them.

       
  2. stephanieberget

    August 2, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    The only time I want to clean the house is when I’m procrastinating writing. I’ve found if I get up and write an hour first thing then take a break, I’ll go back to writing. If I get caught up with TV, I put everything off and usually, I’m not very interested in the programs. Thanks for a great blog. I’m off to find a new place to write.

     
    • Mary Vine

      August 2, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      I laughed, Steph, when you basically said housework over writing. Been there many times. Also, thanks for pointing out, making me think, that the tv I watch in the am is not that interesting, too.

       
  3. marsharwest

    August 2, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    I think the answer is: wherever works for you. I like using my big computer and biiiiig screen best, but I can use my laptop. In fact last year over a weekend writing retreat, I wrote 17 K words on a new WIP on the laptop. But that was without all the usual distractions you menitoned, Mary.
    I have the TV on in the backgound, but not in the room with me. Probably my biggest distraction is responding to my favorite blogs! If you guys didn’t put out such interesting stuff, I’d have more time to write. LOL Don’t you like how I just passed off responsibility there. Okay, I better get to work. 🙂

     
    • Mary Vine

      August 2, 2012 at 11:05 AM

      Thanks, Marsha, for procrastinating by reading our blogs. I so enjoy reading your comments.

       
  4. Janis McCurry

    August 2, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    I have to have TV noise in my background as well. I can’t write in absolute silence. I need some kind of “white” noise happening. The only problem with the TV is if something happens that intrudes on my concentration and I look up to see what it is, mid-frame in the TV. Overall, though, it works for me.

     
    • Mary Vine

      August 2, 2012 at 11:07 AM

      Janis, I think I work best when my husband is watching something I don’t care for. It’s like I’m present for him, and can still write. Thanks!

       
  5. Lynn Mapp

    August 2, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    Good question, Mary. I’ve considered a coffee shop, but…it just never works out. I’d love to find that “special” writing place. So far, it hasn’t worked out for me.

     
    • maryvine

      August 2, 2012 at 4:23 PM

      Lynn-Sometimes I wish that I could write away like JK Rowling did. She figured it out early.

       
  6. Clarissa Southwick

    August 6, 2012 at 1:45 AM

    Thanks for another great blog, Mary. One of my favorite places to write is on the back porch in the cool morning air just as the sun is coming up. It’s far enough from the hubbub that the kids aren’t interrupting me every five minutes, but close enough that I’m still available in case of a true emergency.

     
  7. maryvine

    August 6, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Great idea, Clarissa. Thanks for suggesting it!

     
  8. Peggy Staggs

    August 7, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    The best thing that’s happened to my writing is the automatic dog door. I can actually leave home now because the dogs can go out whenever they like. It’s all in the small things.

     

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