You call that work?

Remember when you worked a job where you were given a week, two weeks, maybe more each year for vacation? Some jobs even gave you a certain number of sick days, or personal time as some call it. Remember when you punched a time clock? Or signed your name at the end of the week to a time sheet?

You went to work. You worked. You clocked out and left work at the end of the day. Life was simple. writer's clock

And then you became a writer.

There is no time clock to punch. No scheduled vacation, sick days, or personal time. There is no time “off”. Why? Because if you’re really a writer, a true creative soul, there is no down time. You can’t shut off your inner self.

I worked at the local television station for a couple of years when my kids were small. I worked in the studio production department for the six and eleven o’clock news. It was a fun job but it ruined my ability to ever simply “watch” a television show. Or even see a movie for that matter. My mind is not only following the story, but I’m critiquing the lighting, the camera work, the background music, etc…

When I am able to stop thinking about the actual production of the show, I’m thinking ahead of the plot—the writer in me won’t let the show just unfold—I’m three scenes ahead.

Dickie

Jeremy Davies as Dickie Bennett, “Justifed”

One of my favorite television shows is “Justified”. The acting, writing, direction, story lines, everything about the show is take-your-breath-away perfection. The second and third season featured the Bennett family—and I, ever the sucker for a great character, fell head over heels for Dickie Bennett (expertly played by Jeremy Davies). The character was so well written and acted, Dickie Bennett became somewhat of an underdog one might actually find a ping of sympathy for. And the whole time I’m crying for Dickie Bennett, I’m wondering why? Why—because although I’m fully engrossed in the show, there’s a part of my brain going “Wow! What a character! I wish I could write a character like that!” So I’m back to working.

It’s the same with a book. Fellow writers—do you ever wish you could just pick up a book and read for the pure joy of it? Or are you working when you read? I study the style, the dialogue, the pace…and sometimes, it drives me nuts! Because there I go, working again.

writers-quotes-story-writing-34823017-400-263I took Sam for a walk today around the block. Great being outside in the fresh air, away from the laptop, away from the pen and paper, away from the cell phone. Just me and Sam—and a thousand characters running around inside my head. Scenes played out, dialogue was spoken, opening lines were toyed with…a simple walk turned into a working break.

And then there’s social media. As writers, a lot of our books’ success or lack of can be traced to social media and how the book is “marketed” on such. So each time I sign on to Facebook, am I working?  Each tweet I send, am I working? Yes. I’m building and nurturing a relationship with readers. Sorry—playing Candy Crush probably doesn’t count.

So I’m going to wrap this up so I can go watch the Superbowl. I like the commercials. Advertising at its best. I’m always fascinated by the production that goes into some of the spots, the quick and to-the-point message delivered in thirty seconds, the words used to…oh darn. There I go again. Working.

 

8 Comments

  1. One of the biggest gripes I have is when I here someone like my younger brother say, “But you’re retired. You don’t have to work.” Much as I love him, I want to throw something at him. It’s not that every waking moment is spent writing or thinking about writing, but much of it is. My walks in the woods with my dog? Plotting or planning new characters. On line? Blogging or visiting writing sites like the Guppies, which all has to do with writing. Read the newspaper? Clip out the things I think would work for a future plot. I belong to two book clubs and read a lot of mysteries. I can enjoy my reading, but it if’s a really good book, I do look at what makes it good. If I think it’s not all that good, I ponder what it is that makes it sub-standard. I don’t watch much TV which is why I have more time to read.

    • Lynn

      February 4, 2014 at 8:18 am

      Thanks Gloria for the comment. Nice to know I’m not the only one who uses a dog walk as a way to work on a plot!

  2. I have found that, since I took up fiction writing over a decade ago, that I now have more pleasure in reading fiction. Having been a non-fiction writer for several decades, I was too often pre-occupied with precision in explanations and grammar. Now, I understand why fiction writers have made the decisions that they have, and I can explain it to others. In an on-going series of classes on early English literature, for example, I am often able to speak about the author’s reason for a choice of action in the plot, such as to bring in character conflict. I love this ability to see the craft from the inside.

    • Lynn

      February 4, 2014 at 8:22 am

      I, too, switched from non-fiction to fiction and now my two least favorite words/phrases are “apparently” and “according to”. Every once in a while they’ll find their way into a mystery I’m writing and I have to beat them out with a club 😉

  3. This is so dead on. Exactly how I feel and exactly what I’ve been running through my mind about what’s happened to my schedule or lack there of! So… forget an organized ritual and the time off… I would however like to read without analyzing.

    • Lynn

      February 4, 2014 at 8:26 am

      If I block out time to write, I sit and stare at the computer or notebook for most of my allotted time. Then in the last 15 minutes, the words come and I write into a frenzy. So I’ve learned to just grab a paragraph or two when the creative urge is strongest and it’s never during the time I’ve set aside.

  4. LOL! I never shut down, never stop working (that is writing.) It always there, in my head.
    Just like you Lynn, everything I do I bring the characters with me. Even at night, sometimes I try to sleep. Those pesky characters find a new way to get my mind turning again.

    • Lynn

      February 4, 2014 at 8:28 am

      That’s exactly why I don’t like writing close to bedtime. I can’t “shut down” my mind and my characters won’t stop talking LOL

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