Writing can be many things, engaging, educational, fun, but the one thing that no one ever seems to say the biggest thing that it is more often than not; isolating. To tell a story right takes a lot of skill, determination, discipline, and sometimes sequestration. A fellow author and I were discussing this recently about what this process is like and how while friends and family are off catching the latest movie, watching a game on television, going away somewhere, we’re inside our homes typing away adventures for our characters.
“Did I catch the game last night?” I am often asked as I walk into the locker room at the gym. Sometimes, I don’t even know what month it is, my mind so heavy with thoughts of drama, romance, or mystery of the fiction kind.
“Who were the Sox playing?” I’ll ask, and I’ll get a stare down like I’m on drugs or something.
“Um… the Pats game. The Sox don’t play again till April. It’s February 18th.”
“Oh, right,” I’ll say and they’ll go on about the game, but my mind will be off wandering back to my fictitious world. It’s nothing personal, but when I get so caught up in the writing of a first draft, or deep into a revision period, it’s all my mind seems to be on. Escape from my own mind becomes a necessity.
Social media can be a great way to see what my friends and family are up to, for brief intervals, but if I truly want to break free of my writing for a bit, I call or text them and see if they want to get together and do something. Even though I often like to call the shots on what to do during non-writing periods, I know sometimes it’s best if I just let them decide.
My friends and family are all very different from each other and like to do a variety of things. It’s great to have a varied selection, because whatever mood my writing has put me in, there’s a ton of options that can take me away from myself.
One of my favorite things to do is called Alert Aerobics. My best friend and I go on these walks throughout a mall, carrying coffees, and laughing constantly. However I will admit that the writing side of me isn’t gone completely during these strolls, as sometimes a snippet from a conversation overheard from other mall patrons will find itself in my story somehow.
Since the age of four, my dad has always encouraged me to have an appreciation for history. By the time I was five, I could recite all the United States Presidents in order, and all of the state capitals, plus many international capitals and leaders as well. As I got older, we started to go on historical trips across the eastern part of the United States. Visits to many Civil War battlefields, Mont Vernon, Monticello, and the Baseball Hall of Fame are amongst the many incredible places we have been. However, learning about these amazing individuals still inspire me to create more depth in my characters.
One other thing that my friends or family and I like to do together is go out to eat. Some of them are foodies; some of them just like good conversation over shared meals. It is at these outings that we really bond and commiserate over events happy and sad. People always seem to have a layer of honesty and good will when they have some cuisine in front of them that they really enjoy. But, still even this isn’t an entire escape, because a mannerism, a joke heard, or a reaction to something could find its way into my pages.
No matter what I do, whether I’m on my own, or I’m with those that I care about, I’m always a writer. My mind is always absorbing from the experiences I have, the people I am with, and the things I learn in solitude or in good company. Sometimes being alone with my thoughts is great, but times with loved ones is gravy. And, that gravy can be the missing ingredient that my writing needs to become a feast for a future reader.