Friday, October 30, 2009

Hands Off the Keyboard

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy; and it doesn't do much for Jill, either. I understand the dedication it takes to finish writing a book, but sometimes you just have to get away from the computer and breathe different air.

I am not one of those people that are able to sit and write and write and write until their fingers bleed. I tend to burn out at the three hour mark. My brain starts to fuzz and I can literally watch my writing disintegrate. I stop when the thought of hurling the computer across the room is sounding sane. And then...I bake.

I find baking calming, and I like that the results are often cookies. I mutter about my plot as I measure out the flour and the sugar. I try out pieces of dialogue as I'm dumping chocolate chips into the bowl. (I don't measure the chips, I dump until it 'looks right'.) Ah, you will be saying, you're not at the computer, but you're still writing. I admit this is true, which is why after the cookies comes...the walking.

I live very near a river that has shown a tendency to flood every few years. As a result, there are raised banks all along it and paths built on top of the the raised banks. It's a wonderful place to walk; there is river traffic to watch and trains (lots of trains) making their way across the train bridge. On the other side of the banks are farms. There's a riding school. There can be cows. It's quiet (when the trains aren't squealing across the bridge.) Traffic noise becomes nothing more than a low rumble. The best thing is that I do not allow myself to think about what I'm writing. I pay attention to how much (or how little) snow is on the mountains in the distance. I listen to birds and to the crunching of my footsteps. I let my mind breathe.

What do you do when it's time to step away from the computer? How do you let your mind breathe?

The picture at the top of this post is a picture of my town.


  1. I walk the dogs. Or sit outside and read. Or cook. Really cook, not just make dinner. I'm not a baker, but I love to experiment with different dishes. Some days I take a real break and do all three.

  2. I focus on my daughter and play with her or we go for walks. Sometimes I've been known to get a massage or pedicure :)

  3. I'm a lot like you. I'm good for about 3 hours, then I'll go for a run or something. Instead of baking, however, I'll just eat.

  4. Elspeth - It's just as important to let one's mind breathe as it is to write, so I'm very glad that you brought that up! Writing is much more creative and engaging when the writer has had a chance to "recharge." I do it by walking the dogs, spending time with my family and working on other, non-writing projects. If I don't get those breaks, my writing really suffers...

  5. Sadly, when I step away from the computer, I walk PAST the exercise room to the kitchen, and yep, you got And I wonder why I look like an NFL Defensive lineman—without the muscle.

    Best Regards, Galen

    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  6. Hmm...I don't think that I've had to focus that long that I've needed to let my mind breathe.
    However, NaNo is just around the corner and I may soon be able to give you an answer.

    Lovely view of your town. Okanagan?

  7. How pretty you town and river are! I used to live in Northern British Columbia and we lived by a mighty river name the Skeena. What a river it was. British Columbia is so breath-takingly beautiful, you're lucky to live there. I like to cook, it relaxes me. And I love baking and am learning how to bake some of our favorites gluten-free. (had to go gluten free for health reasons.) I also like to garden and walk, walk, walk to get my mind in another place.

  8. My writing is in bits and pieces, so I don't usually run into that problem. But I know when I've had too much *computer* time--I start getting that really uptight feeling. I'll go run around the house and frantically clean until I'm tired out. :)

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  9. Like Elizabeth SC, I don't get large chunks of writing time. I don't think I've ever found 3 hours together for writing :)

    My down time/relaxing time choices are also often baking & walking, but my fave choice is reading.

  10. On the same page with you today with this post - as you know from having read myt post today, lol.

    Yep - different strokes now and then leads to mnore brilliant strokes on the keyboard.

    Marvin D Wilson

  11. PS: Check out my latest blog post for a little well-deserved "gift" for you!

  12. Oh, you live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Lucky you! When I take a break, it's for a cup of tea, walk outside in the park behind my house, or to practice singing. I can't do more than 3 hours writing at a time either. My brain fries.

  13. It could be any number of things -- go for a walk, stare out the window, bake, eat, watch The West Wing, listen to some Duran Duran, read something light and fun -- whatever works at the moment.

    Love the photo!!

  14. Beautiful picture! I'm one whose fingers bleed. The dog reminds me to stand up every so often, but I should more than I do.


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