I have come to a conclusion, in my continued quest for self-knowledge.

I don’t do quick transitions.

I’m not referring to the transitions in my prose. Actually, I’m pretty proud of those. I try to keep my chapter and scene transitions snappy and full of momentum. I just wish ‘snappy’ and ‘full of momentum’ were words I could apply to myself.

I once had a roommate who was like a light switch. When she went to bed, she fell asleep. When her alarm went off in the morning, she was awake. End of story. Me? It takes me a half-hour of thinking/processing/obsessing about anything and nothing before I can ever drift off to sleep, and in the morning – oh man. Multiple swats at the snooze button and some serious caffeine intake are required before I can be called remotely ‘awake.’

I’m similarly sluggish when it comes to transitioning from “doing anything else” to “writing.” I have to sit in front of my computer for an hour sometimes, just puttering and waiting for my brain to shift into writing gear. Or maybe it’s more like I’m waiting to get out of my head and into the character’s. It takes forever. And once I’m in the zone … if you interrupt me when I’m writing, don’t expect a relevant or articulate response. I’m not home.

And now, I’ve aggravated the problem by alternating back and forth between writing new stuff (Goddess o’Beauty) and revising old stuff (Goddess o’da Hunt), and coaxing my brain to transition back and forth from one set of characters to the other is not a matter of hours, it’s becoming days.

I need advice. Has anyone out there ever taken method acting? Or played competitive sports? Or done Lamaze? What are those little tricks they give you for focusing quickly, and making that transition into ‘the zone?” How do you slip into Writer-World?

6 comments to “Flip the Switch”

  1. Gillian
    · June 24th, 2007 at 8:41 pm · Link

    I like white noise; the washer, dryer, dishwasher are good, or a low television show that the kids are watching downstairs.

    Music kills it for me once I’m typing. Before I start, it’s great for mood, but once I’m going I can’t listen.

  2. beverley
    · June 24th, 2007 at 9:18 pm · Link

    I’m right where you were with AHR and ATR. In the middle of my second novel, I put it down for over an entire month to revise my first one. I couldn’t do the back and forth. I had to concentrate on one soley and wholly. The only thing I managed to do was revise the first 3 chapters of the second one so I could send it out to a contest. Like I said before, I can’t multi-task when it comes to writing. I’m refreshing my knowledge of my French now though. I can do THAT and write…

  3. Kelly Krysten
    · June 25th, 2007 at 2:22 am · Link

    I actually did take method acting and got to apply it on the stage for years. People tend to need different things to get in the ‘Zone’. I’ve met lots of actors who need complete silence, some like to listen to a particular type of music, some need a rousing pep talk, and one particuarly memorable guy prayed really really loudly while pacing with his eyes closed. It’s all about, as my teacher who took us in depth into the Konatantine Stanaslovsky(I might have spelled that really wrong)method said, taking all of your baggage and putting it outside the theatre door. It always helped me to think of the theatre as a place where my issues and personal life didn’t exist. I don’t know if that will help because it’s all pretty out there. But it’s the best I can do.

  4. Alice Audrey
    · June 25th, 2007 at 9:32 am · Link

    I find a game of “what if” helpful, if I can make myself do it. *grin*


  5. Lindsey
    · June 25th, 2007 at 10:24 am · Link

    I have the same problem, Eve – it can take me ages to achieve focus & some days I feel like I never quite get there. Deadlines & pressure help, but it’s hard to get this when it’s just a self-imposed deadline and not someone with authority breathing down your neck. I sort of subscribe to the theory of visualization – taking ten minutes or so to visualize yourself accomplishing tasks – but I’m not very good about it with writing. It’s more an excuse to stay in bed a little longer by pretending I’m planning out my day.

  6. terrio
    · June 25th, 2007 at 1:13 pm · Link

    I haven’t even tried to write two WIPs at once but I don’t believe I could do it. And I don’t think I could stop in the middle of one and go to something else because I would never come back to the first one.

    I do find that reading what I have (right before I left off last) helps get me back into it. That combined with asking questions like “So where do I want them to go next?” or “What do I need to have them do or where do they need to go to get them to the next plot point?” really helps me move forward. Sometimes that gives me a good idea and things start falling into place.