The Elusive Muse of Focus

Nina commented: I have a question to our Word Wenches. What do you do to keep yourself "in the moment of a book/chapter/scene when life keeps yanking you out? For me, something a simple as a potty break can yank me so far out of a scene I have to re-read the chapter just to "get in the mood" again. So, what do you do to “stay in the moment” when life interrupts?

Hey, if you ever figure this out, let me know!  Seriously, this is almost a daily issue for me, as I’ve written most of my books surrounded by kids, a dog, and the usual (and unusual) family and household matters ready to throw me off track. I once wrote an intense love scene late at night on deadline, while seven boys on a sleepover played video games and made rude and rather creative noises in the very next room. And I’m distractible by nature, so focusing on the work despite all–and that night was a challenge!–can be a real issue.

I’ve learned to use crutches, aids, and techniques. If I need to get up and move (this is a constant, I can’t sit still for long), or if I want a fresh cup of tea but have to run the gauntlet of Mom-requests, doorbell, phone, mail, UPS, dog-goes-outside, dog-goes-back-inside, I try to make myself keep thinking about that story thread if I don’t want to lose it. I’ll jot something down on a piece of paper while I’m waiting for the tea to boil. Or I’ll mutter it to myself, over and over.

Once I’m back at work, I’ll retrace what I wrote last to get back into the flow of it again. Retracing is a great and very simple tool — one step back for two solid steps forward, if all goes well. 

Music also helps me to create a focusing bubble. This doesn’t work for everyone, I know, but it’s a must for me. It helps my brain to synchronize again after interruption, and helps me get back into full focus mode. I’ve gotten very interested in the last few years in right brain/left brain functions, and in music that enhances and organizes. This seems to help ma wee brain. Also, I’ve learned some physical exercises that help as well.

I also use journals. I keep one notebook going, and sometimes finish two or three, for each book I write. I like a certain type of spiral notebook, a size and design that I like. These pages are not for pouring out my personal angst, that’s a waste of time and ink for me, cuz in these pages I want to focus on the book and I want to make some progress — even if the only progess I make in a day is a great entry in that notebook. I talk to myself about the story–anything and everything to do with the book in progress. Ideas, thoughts, plot points, character notes, name lists, research tidbits, anything I don’t want to forget or lose track of entirely. There’s a lot of chitchat, mutter, flotsam and jetsam running through my head, both book and non-book, and I try to corral it here. This works great when I can find the notebook, haha, but no system is perfect. 

Anyway, I find that my messy, scribbledy, beloved journals really keep me on track, as does music (instrumental, never with words! not for working!). If all else fails, walking around muttering to myself usually does the trick (and clears the adolescent males out of the house so I can be alone again to think.)

Oh yeah, and sticky notes. Lots and lots of sticky notes…

Susan/sarah

Ah, sweet focus: Sir Walter Scott’s peaceful study at Abbotsford. Took this myself, and was alone here, blissfully alone, for about 15 minutes before my friends came looking for me. Heaven!

Abbinterior2

57 thoughts on “The Elusive Muse of Focus”

  1. Wow! Thank you Susan/Sarah.
    It’s good to know I’m not the only one who has that kid, husband, laundry, dog in and out problem. 🙂
    The music — you’re right about the left/right brain “thing”. The rhythm of Mozart, Beethoven and the like are suppose to enhance creativity.
    I also find that the headphones are a great deterrent to the casual “mom” interruption. Blocks out the dog, the bird and the phone too.
    Love sticky notes — Once covered the entire back wall of my family room with them just so I could figure out what in the world one of my characters was trying to say. (I often wonder just exactly who is in control.)
    The muttering and the notebook — these I’ve got to try. I have a notebook of character pictures and sketches of other important objects for my book but not one for musings. The muttering – well they already think I’ve gone “mad”, why not prove it.
    But perhaps it’s all in the Study — Oh for a Study of sweet seclusion. A place with a large leather chair, warm fireplace, a spacious desk and Starbucks on tap. 🙂
    Thank you, Susan/Sarah.
    Nina
    P.S. One more question: What do you do when you feel “all tapped out”, creatively speaking?

    Reply
  2. Wow! Thank you Susan/Sarah.
    It’s good to know I’m not the only one who has that kid, husband, laundry, dog in and out problem. 🙂
    The music — you’re right about the left/right brain “thing”. The rhythm of Mozart, Beethoven and the like are suppose to enhance creativity.
    I also find that the headphones are a great deterrent to the casual “mom” interruption. Blocks out the dog, the bird and the phone too.
    Love sticky notes — Once covered the entire back wall of my family room with them just so I could figure out what in the world one of my characters was trying to say. (I often wonder just exactly who is in control.)
    The muttering and the notebook — these I’ve got to try. I have a notebook of character pictures and sketches of other important objects for my book but not one for musings. The muttering – well they already think I’ve gone “mad”, why not prove it.
    But perhaps it’s all in the Study — Oh for a Study of sweet seclusion. A place with a large leather chair, warm fireplace, a spacious desk and Starbucks on tap. 🙂
    Thank you, Susan/Sarah.
    Nina
    P.S. One more question: What do you do when you feel “all tapped out”, creatively speaking?

    Reply
  3. Wow! Thank you Susan/Sarah.
    It’s good to know I’m not the only one who has that kid, husband, laundry, dog in and out problem. 🙂
    The music — you’re right about the left/right brain “thing”. The rhythm of Mozart, Beethoven and the like are suppose to enhance creativity.
    I also find that the headphones are a great deterrent to the casual “mom” interruption. Blocks out the dog, the bird and the phone too.
    Love sticky notes — Once covered the entire back wall of my family room with them just so I could figure out what in the world one of my characters was trying to say. (I often wonder just exactly who is in control.)
    The muttering and the notebook — these I’ve got to try. I have a notebook of character pictures and sketches of other important objects for my book but not one for musings. The muttering – well they already think I’ve gone “mad”, why not prove it.
    But perhaps it’s all in the Study — Oh for a Study of sweet seclusion. A place with a large leather chair, warm fireplace, a spacious desk and Starbucks on tap. 🙂
    Thank you, Susan/Sarah.
    Nina
    P.S. One more question: What do you do when you feel “all tapped out”, creatively speaking?

    Reply
  4. I’m a computer programmer, so I imagine writing novels in your actual English language is a bit different from writing enhancements to Cost Managment systems in SQL and Delphi, even ‘tho I do it at home and not in an office too. But…
    …random distraction and hoovering the cat syndrome — like I’m suffering from now — are also a huge problem for me, especially as building the project is currently running at ~5 minutes per compile. Really kills my focus every time I need to do a build to test something.
    I agree with the headphones and music, but straight instrumentals tend to send me off too far into right-brain dreamland, whilst things with a vocal I can understand will have me listening to the lyrics rather than coding.
    So I need a vocal, but a vocal in a language I don’t understand, fortunately as a monolingual English speaker, there are many many languages I don’t understand 🙂
    So classical Requiems, French torch songs, The Cocteau Twins and Sigur Ros (as I don’t speak Norwegian or Cocteau Twin) tend to be in heavy rotation on my playlist.
    To get any sort of focus in the first place, I need make sure I have the little physical things sorted. I’ve drunk enough that I’m not thirsty, eaten enough that I’m not hungry, and adjusted the temperature so that I’m appropriately cooled, but not freezing.
    There’s been so many times I’ve spent half an hour expending most of my mental energy ignoring one or more of those, as I get no work done — okay, maybe one line of code — whilst kidding myself that I am actually working, it’s not funny.
    I’m okay ignoring those for a while if they come up some time in the middle of focusing on something, but I can’t *start* properly with them there in the background.
    To get focus back after losing it, the only way I can really do that is to go through the code I’m working on and update the comments, fix the indenting, fiddle with the formatting. Trying to jump straight back to coding doesn’t work.
    I’m not sure what the writing a novel equivalent is for that. Fixing the up grammer, rearranging the paragraphs, and checking the spelling maybe?

    Reply
  5. I’m a computer programmer, so I imagine writing novels in your actual English language is a bit different from writing enhancements to Cost Managment systems in SQL and Delphi, even ‘tho I do it at home and not in an office too. But…
    …random distraction and hoovering the cat syndrome — like I’m suffering from now — are also a huge problem for me, especially as building the project is currently running at ~5 minutes per compile. Really kills my focus every time I need to do a build to test something.
    I agree with the headphones and music, but straight instrumentals tend to send me off too far into right-brain dreamland, whilst things with a vocal I can understand will have me listening to the lyrics rather than coding.
    So I need a vocal, but a vocal in a language I don’t understand, fortunately as a monolingual English speaker, there are many many languages I don’t understand 🙂
    So classical Requiems, French torch songs, The Cocteau Twins and Sigur Ros (as I don’t speak Norwegian or Cocteau Twin) tend to be in heavy rotation on my playlist.
    To get any sort of focus in the first place, I need make sure I have the little physical things sorted. I’ve drunk enough that I’m not thirsty, eaten enough that I’m not hungry, and adjusted the temperature so that I’m appropriately cooled, but not freezing.
    There’s been so many times I’ve spent half an hour expending most of my mental energy ignoring one or more of those, as I get no work done — okay, maybe one line of code — whilst kidding myself that I am actually working, it’s not funny.
    I’m okay ignoring those for a while if they come up some time in the middle of focusing on something, but I can’t *start* properly with them there in the background.
    To get focus back after losing it, the only way I can really do that is to go through the code I’m working on and update the comments, fix the indenting, fiddle with the formatting. Trying to jump straight back to coding doesn’t work.
    I’m not sure what the writing a novel equivalent is for that. Fixing the up grammer, rearranging the paragraphs, and checking the spelling maybe?

    Reply
  6. I’m a computer programmer, so I imagine writing novels in your actual English language is a bit different from writing enhancements to Cost Managment systems in SQL and Delphi, even ‘tho I do it at home and not in an office too. But…
    …random distraction and hoovering the cat syndrome — like I’m suffering from now — are also a huge problem for me, especially as building the project is currently running at ~5 minutes per compile. Really kills my focus every time I need to do a build to test something.
    I agree with the headphones and music, but straight instrumentals tend to send me off too far into right-brain dreamland, whilst things with a vocal I can understand will have me listening to the lyrics rather than coding.
    So I need a vocal, but a vocal in a language I don’t understand, fortunately as a monolingual English speaker, there are many many languages I don’t understand 🙂
    So classical Requiems, French torch songs, The Cocteau Twins and Sigur Ros (as I don’t speak Norwegian or Cocteau Twin) tend to be in heavy rotation on my playlist.
    To get any sort of focus in the first place, I need make sure I have the little physical things sorted. I’ve drunk enough that I’m not thirsty, eaten enough that I’m not hungry, and adjusted the temperature so that I’m appropriately cooled, but not freezing.
    There’s been so many times I’ve spent half an hour expending most of my mental energy ignoring one or more of those, as I get no work done — okay, maybe one line of code — whilst kidding myself that I am actually working, it’s not funny.
    I’m okay ignoring those for a while if they come up some time in the middle of focusing on something, but I can’t *start* properly with them there in the background.
    To get focus back after losing it, the only way I can really do that is to go through the code I’m working on and update the comments, fix the indenting, fiddle with the formatting. Trying to jump straight back to coding doesn’t work.
    I’m not sure what the writing a novel equivalent is for that. Fixing the up grammer, rearranging the paragraphs, and checking the spelling maybe?

    Reply
  7. I kept a similar journal while revising my GH entry last year. Found it helped.
    Sarah – it’s incredible you can get done what you do, considering all the distractions around you.
    LOVE the pic of Sir Walter’s study *sigh*.

    Reply
  8. I kept a similar journal while revising my GH entry last year. Found it helped.
    Sarah – it’s incredible you can get done what you do, considering all the distractions around you.
    LOVE the pic of Sir Walter’s study *sigh*.

    Reply
  9. I kept a similar journal while revising my GH entry last year. Found it helped.
    Sarah – it’s incredible you can get done what you do, considering all the distractions around you.
    LOVE the pic of Sir Walter’s study *sigh*.

    Reply
  10. The music is what’s essential for me, Susan/Sarah. I end up getting a soundtrack for every book I write because usually it’s the one CD I just played over and over – eventually, just playing that CD puts me right back in the space where I need to be to write the story. Like you, I can’t do it with vocals – I’ll listen to the words, even if they’re in a language I can’t understand, if there are words to listen to. They take over from the voices in my head (yes, I’m slightly mad). Classics or movie soundtracks seem to work for me. And I wish I lived at Sir Walter Scott’s place! I’ve got a severe case of study envy.

    Reply
  11. The music is what’s essential for me, Susan/Sarah. I end up getting a soundtrack for every book I write because usually it’s the one CD I just played over and over – eventually, just playing that CD puts me right back in the space where I need to be to write the story. Like you, I can’t do it with vocals – I’ll listen to the words, even if they’re in a language I can’t understand, if there are words to listen to. They take over from the voices in my head (yes, I’m slightly mad). Classics or movie soundtracks seem to work for me. And I wish I lived at Sir Walter Scott’s place! I’ve got a severe case of study envy.

    Reply
  12. The music is what’s essential for me, Susan/Sarah. I end up getting a soundtrack for every book I write because usually it’s the one CD I just played over and over – eventually, just playing that CD puts me right back in the space where I need to be to write the story. Like you, I can’t do it with vocals – I’ll listen to the words, even if they’re in a language I can’t understand, if there are words to listen to. They take over from the voices in my head (yes, I’m slightly mad). Classics or movie soundtracks seem to work for me. And I wish I lived at Sir Walter Scott’s place! I’ve got a severe case of study envy.

    Reply
  13. From Pat:
    I think they have pills for focus. I’ve tried the headphone thing lately using the mind-sync tapes Jo suggested that are supposed to stimulate left and right brains and keep them working together. Don’t know if it works or not but it keeps me from hearing everyday noises as much.
    If I’m really into a scene, they could probably blow up the street outside and I’d not notice, but that doesn’t happen as often these days. Trying to make a scene perfect first time through applies too much pressure to the noncreative side of the brain and distracts from the creative. I think that’s part of the focus problem too.
    Susan/Sarah, I really don’t know how you get anything done at all with all that going on!
    Pat

    Reply
  14. From Pat:
    I think they have pills for focus. I’ve tried the headphone thing lately using the mind-sync tapes Jo suggested that are supposed to stimulate left and right brains and keep them working together. Don’t know if it works or not but it keeps me from hearing everyday noises as much.
    If I’m really into a scene, they could probably blow up the street outside and I’d not notice, but that doesn’t happen as often these days. Trying to make a scene perfect first time through applies too much pressure to the noncreative side of the brain and distracts from the creative. I think that’s part of the focus problem too.
    Susan/Sarah, I really don’t know how you get anything done at all with all that going on!
    Pat

    Reply
  15. From Pat:
    I think they have pills for focus. I’ve tried the headphone thing lately using the mind-sync tapes Jo suggested that are supposed to stimulate left and right brains and keep them working together. Don’t know if it works or not but it keeps me from hearing everyday noises as much.
    If I’m really into a scene, they could probably blow up the street outside and I’d not notice, but that doesn’t happen as often these days. Trying to make a scene perfect first time through applies too much pressure to the noncreative side of the brain and distracts from the creative. I think that’s part of the focus problem too.
    Susan/Sarah, I really don’t know how you get anything done at all with all that going on!
    Pat

    Reply
  16. Well, I know how easily I get distracted and I thought it was mainly illness and age. Well, I guess at your age you get distracted because of your children. I don’t have those and live by myself and…usually I don’t write, i.e., I’m not a creative writer. It’s bad enough getting back to a comment or e-mail letter.
    I’m wondering why you made a, seemingly, complete break with your former persona. I was just reading your Sarah Gabriel bio and there’s no mention of it. I think I actually wrote you once not long ago and you didn’t mention that were being published under another name. Does that contest under your other name still stand because I missed the second in your last trilogy. It must have come out about the time my mother died when I hardly got to go anywhere. I had to give up my car soon after that and so I haven’t even been to used bookstores to see if I can find it.
    How are your books now different from the other ones? (if you care to divulge the “secret” to the change in identity.)

    Reply
  17. Well, I know how easily I get distracted and I thought it was mainly illness and age. Well, I guess at your age you get distracted because of your children. I don’t have those and live by myself and…usually I don’t write, i.e., I’m not a creative writer. It’s bad enough getting back to a comment or e-mail letter.
    I’m wondering why you made a, seemingly, complete break with your former persona. I was just reading your Sarah Gabriel bio and there’s no mention of it. I think I actually wrote you once not long ago and you didn’t mention that were being published under another name. Does that contest under your other name still stand because I missed the second in your last trilogy. It must have come out about the time my mother died when I hardly got to go anywhere. I had to give up my car soon after that and so I haven’t even been to used bookstores to see if I can find it.
    How are your books now different from the other ones? (if you care to divulge the “secret” to the change in identity.)

    Reply
  18. Well, I know how easily I get distracted and I thought it was mainly illness and age. Well, I guess at your age you get distracted because of your children. I don’t have those and live by myself and…usually I don’t write, i.e., I’m not a creative writer. It’s bad enough getting back to a comment or e-mail letter.
    I’m wondering why you made a, seemingly, complete break with your former persona. I was just reading your Sarah Gabriel bio and there’s no mention of it. I think I actually wrote you once not long ago and you didn’t mention that were being published under another name. Does that contest under your other name still stand because I missed the second in your last trilogy. It must have come out about the time my mother died when I hardly got to go anywhere. I had to give up my car soon after that and so I haven’t even been to used bookstores to see if I can find it.
    How are your books now different from the other ones? (if you care to divulge the “secret” to the change in identity.)

    Reply
  19. This is why I love Word Wenches!!
    Pat, you nailed it for me when you said “trying to make a scene perfect first time through…” This is what I’ve been doing ever since one of my readers suggested that I should look for an agent. I remember it so clearly now. My stomach crawled up my throat, I broke out into a cold sweat and I headed to the luve. Not because I’m afraid of critique. I actively seek that out. It’s the mere thought of rejection that makes me ill.
    Now, every time I sit down in my “black leather writing chair” my emotions inch upwards and my muse runs screaming out the back door. Then I became all tech and my scenes look like a laundry list of instructions. So, instead of writing “new words” I go back and revise and revise and revise. Oh, how I need to get out of this loop.
    Off to look for a way to break out of my self imposed straightjacket.
    Thank You to All
    Nina

    Reply
  20. This is why I love Word Wenches!!
    Pat, you nailed it for me when you said “trying to make a scene perfect first time through…” This is what I’ve been doing ever since one of my readers suggested that I should look for an agent. I remember it so clearly now. My stomach crawled up my throat, I broke out into a cold sweat and I headed to the luve. Not because I’m afraid of critique. I actively seek that out. It’s the mere thought of rejection that makes me ill.
    Now, every time I sit down in my “black leather writing chair” my emotions inch upwards and my muse runs screaming out the back door. Then I became all tech and my scenes look like a laundry list of instructions. So, instead of writing “new words” I go back and revise and revise and revise. Oh, how I need to get out of this loop.
    Off to look for a way to break out of my self imposed straightjacket.
    Thank You to All
    Nina

    Reply
  21. This is why I love Word Wenches!!
    Pat, you nailed it for me when you said “trying to make a scene perfect first time through…” This is what I’ve been doing ever since one of my readers suggested that I should look for an agent. I remember it so clearly now. My stomach crawled up my throat, I broke out into a cold sweat and I headed to the luve. Not because I’m afraid of critique. I actively seek that out. It’s the mere thought of rejection that makes me ill.
    Now, every time I sit down in my “black leather writing chair” my emotions inch upwards and my muse runs screaming out the back door. Then I became all tech and my scenes look like a laundry list of instructions. So, instead of writing “new words” I go back and revise and revise and revise. Oh, how I need to get out of this loop.
    Off to look for a way to break out of my self imposed straightjacket.
    Thank You to All
    Nina

    Reply
  22. I like the inside scoop The part about the sleepover party was so funny. You deserve a medal. Not to sound all Dr. Phil, but seriously, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  23. I like the inside scoop The part about the sleepover party was so funny. You deserve a medal. Not to sound all Dr. Phil, but seriously, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  24. I like the inside scoop The part about the sleepover party was so funny. You deserve a medal. Not to sound all Dr. Phil, but seriously, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  25. Oh yeah, I wanted to mention that seeing Abbotsford was one of the big highlights of my tour of GB many years ago. Come to think of it, my whole apartment would fit into that one room. I loved the whole tour but as soon as I got across the border to Scotland, everything was for me: Sir Walter Scott and the Battle of Culloden. I loved Scotland more than England. I guess maybe all the tales my mother told me about the wonderful people there when she spent 6 mos. in Motherwell and Aberdeen at 16 from Germany, played a big part in that. She was there when Edward VIII gave his abdication speech. It was a memorable year. And I went some 30 years later.
    It’s a great picture, Susan/Sarah. At that time I just took slides. One of these days I’ll just have to transfer the whole lot to digital. That’ll take years and a much more expensive scanner than I have right now.
    Scotland–sigh. What is it about that spot! Sometimes I feel like saying with Scott: “This is my own, my native land.”

    Reply
  26. Oh yeah, I wanted to mention that seeing Abbotsford was one of the big highlights of my tour of GB many years ago. Come to think of it, my whole apartment would fit into that one room. I loved the whole tour but as soon as I got across the border to Scotland, everything was for me: Sir Walter Scott and the Battle of Culloden. I loved Scotland more than England. I guess maybe all the tales my mother told me about the wonderful people there when she spent 6 mos. in Motherwell and Aberdeen at 16 from Germany, played a big part in that. She was there when Edward VIII gave his abdication speech. It was a memorable year. And I went some 30 years later.
    It’s a great picture, Susan/Sarah. At that time I just took slides. One of these days I’ll just have to transfer the whole lot to digital. That’ll take years and a much more expensive scanner than I have right now.
    Scotland–sigh. What is it about that spot! Sometimes I feel like saying with Scott: “This is my own, my native land.”

    Reply
  27. Oh yeah, I wanted to mention that seeing Abbotsford was one of the big highlights of my tour of GB many years ago. Come to think of it, my whole apartment would fit into that one room. I loved the whole tour but as soon as I got across the border to Scotland, everything was for me: Sir Walter Scott and the Battle of Culloden. I loved Scotland more than England. I guess maybe all the tales my mother told me about the wonderful people there when she spent 6 mos. in Motherwell and Aberdeen at 16 from Germany, played a big part in that. She was there when Edward VIII gave his abdication speech. It was a memorable year. And I went some 30 years later.
    It’s a great picture, Susan/Sarah. At that time I just took slides. One of these days I’ll just have to transfer the whole lot to digital. That’ll take years and a much more expensive scanner than I have right now.
    Scotland–sigh. What is it about that spot! Sometimes I feel like saying with Scott: “This is my own, my native land.”

    Reply
  28. From Susan/sarah:
    Wow, such cool responses! thanks!
    Nina, you’re welcome, thanks for such an interesting question. Backtracking and continually editing/revising is a problem because of word processing systems — it’s just tooooo easy to refine, and sometimes I have to make myself push on and produce pages, no matter how messy, without letting myself go back until I’ve covered some territory, or need to read through and see where I am.
    SKapusniak, how interesting that you’re using similar techniques for writing computer code. I don’t know much about that, though it seems inherently more left-brained than right-brained. I get more done in right-brain alpha/theta la-la land, and use harp music and other instrumentals (some with embedded synchronizing sounds) to help establish a writing “zone.” If I let too much left brain thinking go on, the creative stuff fizzles and analysis takes over.
    Pat, I really love the brain-sync stuff, though I’ve probably mentioned it to you already – let’s talk about that sometime!
    Anna, sometimes I’ll use movie soundtracks or appoint a “soundtrack” for a story, and you’re right, it’s a big help in finding your place again.
    Susie, that wacky sleepover night was 5 years ago, so my 3 sons are older now (teens and young adults)–but it’s often like a Frat House here. Sometimes I’m amazed I wrote any books at all….
    Ranurgis, I started writing as Sarah due to a change in publishing houses, and because the Avon books are lighter than the SK ones. I’m taking Susan King in a new direction with a mainstream historical coming from Crown next year, so it made sense to use two names. I’ll be updating both the Sarah and Susan sites with more info later this year (with the help of our WONDERFUL Eileen, who designed the Wenches blog, and also does sites for me, Mary Jo, Pat Rice and the Amazing Nora among others!).
    And to Cathy, Teresa, and everyone, glad you liked the peek at Sir Walter’s lovely study. Abbotsford is beautiful, like a writer’s paradise!
    As the resident Scottish-historical writer among the Word Wenches, I’ll throw in a Scots reference now and then! I don’t know much about Almack’s and Rotten Row, I’m afraid…but I do know something about Sir Walter Scott’s Scotland, and the next two Sarah Gabriel books will be set in that time. 🙂
    SK/SG

    Reply
  29. From Susan/sarah:
    Wow, such cool responses! thanks!
    Nina, you’re welcome, thanks for such an interesting question. Backtracking and continually editing/revising is a problem because of word processing systems — it’s just tooooo easy to refine, and sometimes I have to make myself push on and produce pages, no matter how messy, without letting myself go back until I’ve covered some territory, or need to read through and see where I am.
    SKapusniak, how interesting that you’re using similar techniques for writing computer code. I don’t know much about that, though it seems inherently more left-brained than right-brained. I get more done in right-brain alpha/theta la-la land, and use harp music and other instrumentals (some with embedded synchronizing sounds) to help establish a writing “zone.” If I let too much left brain thinking go on, the creative stuff fizzles and analysis takes over.
    Pat, I really love the brain-sync stuff, though I’ve probably mentioned it to you already – let’s talk about that sometime!
    Anna, sometimes I’ll use movie soundtracks or appoint a “soundtrack” for a story, and you’re right, it’s a big help in finding your place again.
    Susie, that wacky sleepover night was 5 years ago, so my 3 sons are older now (teens and young adults)–but it’s often like a Frat House here. Sometimes I’m amazed I wrote any books at all….
    Ranurgis, I started writing as Sarah due to a change in publishing houses, and because the Avon books are lighter than the SK ones. I’m taking Susan King in a new direction with a mainstream historical coming from Crown next year, so it made sense to use two names. I’ll be updating both the Sarah and Susan sites with more info later this year (with the help of our WONDERFUL Eileen, who designed the Wenches blog, and also does sites for me, Mary Jo, Pat Rice and the Amazing Nora among others!).
    And to Cathy, Teresa, and everyone, glad you liked the peek at Sir Walter’s lovely study. Abbotsford is beautiful, like a writer’s paradise!
    As the resident Scottish-historical writer among the Word Wenches, I’ll throw in a Scots reference now and then! I don’t know much about Almack’s and Rotten Row, I’m afraid…but I do know something about Sir Walter Scott’s Scotland, and the next two Sarah Gabriel books will be set in that time. 🙂
    SK/SG

    Reply
  30. From Susan/sarah:
    Wow, such cool responses! thanks!
    Nina, you’re welcome, thanks for such an interesting question. Backtracking and continually editing/revising is a problem because of word processing systems — it’s just tooooo easy to refine, and sometimes I have to make myself push on and produce pages, no matter how messy, without letting myself go back until I’ve covered some territory, or need to read through and see where I am.
    SKapusniak, how interesting that you’re using similar techniques for writing computer code. I don’t know much about that, though it seems inherently more left-brained than right-brained. I get more done in right-brain alpha/theta la-la land, and use harp music and other instrumentals (some with embedded synchronizing sounds) to help establish a writing “zone.” If I let too much left brain thinking go on, the creative stuff fizzles and analysis takes over.
    Pat, I really love the brain-sync stuff, though I’ve probably mentioned it to you already – let’s talk about that sometime!
    Anna, sometimes I’ll use movie soundtracks or appoint a “soundtrack” for a story, and you’re right, it’s a big help in finding your place again.
    Susie, that wacky sleepover night was 5 years ago, so my 3 sons are older now (teens and young adults)–but it’s often like a Frat House here. Sometimes I’m amazed I wrote any books at all….
    Ranurgis, I started writing as Sarah due to a change in publishing houses, and because the Avon books are lighter than the SK ones. I’m taking Susan King in a new direction with a mainstream historical coming from Crown next year, so it made sense to use two names. I’ll be updating both the Sarah and Susan sites with more info later this year (with the help of our WONDERFUL Eileen, who designed the Wenches blog, and also does sites for me, Mary Jo, Pat Rice and the Amazing Nora among others!).
    And to Cathy, Teresa, and everyone, glad you liked the peek at Sir Walter’s lovely study. Abbotsford is beautiful, like a writer’s paradise!
    As the resident Scottish-historical writer among the Word Wenches, I’ll throw in a Scots reference now and then! I don’t know much about Almack’s and Rotten Row, I’m afraid…but I do know something about Sir Walter Scott’s Scotland, and the next two Sarah Gabriel books will be set in that time. 🙂
    SK/SG

    Reply
  31. tal sez:
    Sir Walter’s study looks perfect, but…where did he plug his computer in?
    LOL, he puts us all to shame! Did it all the old-fashioned way, by hand and candlelight, sitting in that beat-up leather chair (and he was disabled from polio!)… I think he wrote Waverley in a few weeks, 600+ pages by hand. Crazy mad creativity! (fueled by admirable determination and integrity, as his publisher went bankrupt and left him footing huge bills…).
    SK

    Reply
  32. tal sez:
    Sir Walter’s study looks perfect, but…where did he plug his computer in?
    LOL, he puts us all to shame! Did it all the old-fashioned way, by hand and candlelight, sitting in that beat-up leather chair (and he was disabled from polio!)… I think he wrote Waverley in a few weeks, 600+ pages by hand. Crazy mad creativity! (fueled by admirable determination and integrity, as his publisher went bankrupt and left him footing huge bills…).
    SK

    Reply
  33. tal sez:
    Sir Walter’s study looks perfect, but…where did he plug his computer in?
    LOL, he puts us all to shame! Did it all the old-fashioned way, by hand and candlelight, sitting in that beat-up leather chair (and he was disabled from polio!)… I think he wrote Waverley in a few weeks, 600+ pages by hand. Crazy mad creativity! (fueled by admirable determination and integrity, as his publisher went bankrupt and left him footing huge bills…).
    SK

    Reply
  34. From Pat Rice:
    Actually, that old-fashioned way may be the solution to Nina’s problem. I’ve found that if my head is stuck in edit mode, I can pick up my old-fashioned paper and pen, head for the recliner in front of the fire or the lounge chair on the patio and just let my hand move across the page. Words start spilling out.
    It’s magic!

    Reply
  35. From Pat Rice:
    Actually, that old-fashioned way may be the solution to Nina’s problem. I’ve found that if my head is stuck in edit mode, I can pick up my old-fashioned paper and pen, head for the recliner in front of the fire or the lounge chair on the patio and just let my hand move across the page. Words start spilling out.
    It’s magic!

    Reply
  36. From Pat Rice:
    Actually, that old-fashioned way may be the solution to Nina’s problem. I’ve found that if my head is stuck in edit mode, I can pick up my old-fashioned paper and pen, head for the recliner in front of the fire or the lounge chair on the patio and just let my hand move across the page. Words start spilling out.
    It’s magic!

    Reply
  37. From Loretta:
    I, too, have a scribbly notebook. Mostly it’s to keep track of things I’m liable to forget, like how many years the heroine has been doing thus and such and questionable words I need to check in the OED and missing info I need to find. I make notes in the notebook–which I keep near at hand–so I don’t have to stop in the middle of a scene and lose the flow (such as it is, which sometimes makes molasses in January look like rocket speed). I just leave a blank on the compter screen and keep on typing. But I also have a large pile of scrap paper, to which I turn with a colored pen or a crayon when the flow comes to a stop. A few minutes of asking myself questions and doodling on this disposable paper often frees the brain from whatever’s jamming it up.

    Reply
  38. From Loretta:
    I, too, have a scribbly notebook. Mostly it’s to keep track of things I’m liable to forget, like how many years the heroine has been doing thus and such and questionable words I need to check in the OED and missing info I need to find. I make notes in the notebook–which I keep near at hand–so I don’t have to stop in the middle of a scene and lose the flow (such as it is, which sometimes makes molasses in January look like rocket speed). I just leave a blank on the compter screen and keep on typing. But I also have a large pile of scrap paper, to which I turn with a colored pen or a crayon when the flow comes to a stop. A few minutes of asking myself questions and doodling on this disposable paper often frees the brain from whatever’s jamming it up.

    Reply
  39. From Loretta:
    I, too, have a scribbly notebook. Mostly it’s to keep track of things I’m liable to forget, like how many years the heroine has been doing thus and such and questionable words I need to check in the OED and missing info I need to find. I make notes in the notebook–which I keep near at hand–so I don’t have to stop in the middle of a scene and lose the flow (such as it is, which sometimes makes molasses in January look like rocket speed). I just leave a blank on the compter screen and keep on typing. But I also have a large pile of scrap paper, to which I turn with a colored pen or a crayon when the flow comes to a stop. A few minutes of asking myself questions and doodling on this disposable paper often frees the brain from whatever’s jamming it up.

    Reply
  40. Pat, Loretta — Thank you! Love the idea of paper and pen. Never thought of writing that way. I do everything on my notebook, even my grocery list.
    Off to find paper and pen… hope I don’t have to go all the way to Wal-Mart. 🙂
    Word Wenches, you are awesome!
    ————–
    What do you call a blogger that blogs on Word Wenches, but isn’t a Word Wench?

    Reply
  41. Pat, Loretta — Thank you! Love the idea of paper and pen. Never thought of writing that way. I do everything on my notebook, even my grocery list.
    Off to find paper and pen… hope I don’t have to go all the way to Wal-Mart. 🙂
    Word Wenches, you are awesome!
    ————–
    What do you call a blogger that blogs on Word Wenches, but isn’t a Word Wench?

    Reply
  42. Pat, Loretta — Thank you! Love the idea of paper and pen. Never thought of writing that way. I do everything on my notebook, even my grocery list.
    Off to find paper and pen… hope I don’t have to go all the way to Wal-Mart. 🙂
    Word Wenches, you are awesome!
    ————–
    What do you call a blogger that blogs on Word Wenches, but isn’t a Word Wench?

    Reply
  43. from Susan /sarah:
    Loretta, what a cool idea to keep paper and colored pens by the computer while you’re writing. I’ve heard that colored pens and crayons can stimulate creative thought — the brain gets bored with the same black or blue pen, and changing colors wakes it up again. Doodling wakes it up too.
    Susan

    Reply
  44. from Susan /sarah:
    Loretta, what a cool idea to keep paper and colored pens by the computer while you’re writing. I’ve heard that colored pens and crayons can stimulate creative thought — the brain gets bored with the same black or blue pen, and changing colors wakes it up again. Doodling wakes it up too.
    Susan

    Reply
  45. from Susan /sarah:
    Loretta, what a cool idea to keep paper and colored pens by the computer while you’re writing. I’ve heard that colored pens and crayons can stimulate creative thought — the brain gets bored with the same black or blue pen, and changing colors wakes it up again. Doodling wakes it up too.
    Susan

    Reply

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