Come play inside a writer's brain, scary!

An online comment from writer friend, Jenny Schwartz got me thinking. She tweeted, “Ever think how weird writers are? My reward for finishing novella on Friday? Squeaking in time to write a short SF story. More writing.”

More writing indeed. And how often are we told to use the time spent standing in line, or in the doctor’s waiting room, thinking up ideas, solving plot problems and other writing-related tasks so we can be more productive when we sit down at the keyboard.

Which raises the question: is a writer ever off duty? For myself, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a writing project to think about. I’ve blogged before about going  on an adventure cruise determined NOT do anything writing-related, only to come home and turn the whole experience into a novel, alas too late to claim some of the expenses off my tax…since I obviously was working.

What every writer’s conscience should look like

Other times I’m working when supposed to be off duty:

When lying in bed at night, unable to sleep for whatever reason. I mull over my current project and try to solve some of the plot issues. Fed up with being made to think about work, my brain tends to shut off and go to sleep…finally, so the habit has its uses.

When out in the “real” world, and I happen to see an interesting person or overhear a snippet of conversation that triggers a possible story idea.

While catching up on news & current affairs,  and an offbeat story sparks a new train of thought. What would happen if…

When something unusual happens, such as getting a text message not meant for me, sparking new possibilities. On Facebook recently, someone posted that if they get bored, they send a text to a random number saying, “I hid the body. Now what?” Man oh man, what our devious minds can do with that.

Jury is still out on whether being always-on is good or bad.

Certainly it means we’re hardly ever bored. I wonder now and again what “normal” people do with their spare time, not to mention all that spare brain capacity that writers fill with characters, plots and research material.

While most writers accept this as an occupational hazard/benefit, it also helps to remember that other aspects of life are as important as writing. Neglecting family and friends may be OK briefly when a deadline looms, but it shouldn’t become a habit for all our sakes. We need to live in the real world too, if only to soak up new input (um…I think that’s still writing LOL). What I mean is it’s okay to get away from the keyboard/tablet/smart phone and just do whatever we’re doing without making notes all the time.

Is that realistic or even possible? Can a writer ever really switch off? And what’s with the tide of guilt swirling around us when we do take time for real life?

Love to know what others think.


On Twitter @valerieparv

And on Facebook

and occasionally out shopping, indoor bowling, reading, volunteering and having a life…truly









Comments on: "The guilt-edged writer – when are you off duty?" (3)

  1. LOL your tags made me grin. “Facebook. Guilt. Jenny…” um yeah…so much social media munching on my writing time. Maybe it’s only fair that my “writing” time then munches on other activities? I wish I could convince my brain to let go of plot ideas when it’s sleep time, though.

    • Welcome, Jenny. Yes, it’s amazing how the tags can develop a theme all their own. Your tweet really did start me thinking about how all-consuming a writer’s work can become. We may not be the only job that does, but unique in that we spin ours out of thin air.

  2. Just for the picture following 😀 Absolutely love it, but yeah I always feel guilty when I’m not writing. Even now I feel like I should probably be writing rather than blogging… I make up for it by telling myself that blogging is a type of writing and therefore I am still writing. Technically.

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