Monday, March 12, 2012

A Mental Squint

Okay, so balancing the busy life of speaking to teens, beginning promotional/marketing efforts for one book, and trying to write another has divided my creative energy into thirds.

Luckily, I heard a quote over the weekend (thanks to Bethany!) that helped me in the writing part of my creativity.

picture here

“When you are describing 
A shape, or sound, or tint; 
Don't state the matter plainly, 
But put it in a hint; 
And learn to look at all things 
With a sort of mental squint.”
~Lewis Carroll

And so that's what I'm doing while writing now. Squinting. Mentally. Ha! But seriously, I think it's going to work.

How do you focus on writing when you're in the middle of other storms?

PS. The winner of the STARTERS ARC is Jenny! Congrats! Email me with your mailing address at elanajohnson(at)gmail(got)com.

29 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Wow, you ask the hardest questions for 5 am on a Monday. Um. I set aside time for it. Yep, until I see everyone else's brilliant responses, that will have to do for now. :)

ryan graudin said...

I would have to go with Stina. Make the time to write and only write!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Love the picture. You know I struggle with this. Sometimes I just open my manuscript to force myself to have time to write.

Angela Brown said...

Congrats to Jenny!

This is Lewis Carroll here and boy did he do some creative mental squinting :-)

Do they really have to be storms? I mean, I get the feeling I'm in an X-Men movie and Storm has just summoned three tornadoes down on me. lol!!

But on the for real, compartmentalizing can be pretty helpful. While one part is battling one storm, the other is working to survive a flood and a drought is trying to set in elsewhere, sitting down to compartmentalize, to separate and attack with 100% strength helps. I wish it were something that just happened overnight, and it could happen that way for some, but it didn't for me. I'm getting a little better at it with each day.

Christine Fonseca said...

hahahahahahhahahahahaa --> maniacal laughter!

Jemi Fraser said...

Love that quote! I'm always needing to improve my descriptions - definitely goign to try squinting! :)

Nick Wilford said...

Love that quote, love Alice in Wonderland. Hmm... I have been busy recently and while writing, I've been trying to remove myself from where I am and visualise sitting in the scene I'm describing, recording what's going on. Sounds obvious, but I've found it helpful. I tell myself to pay attention, so as not to miss anything.

Leigh Ann said...

Ooooh, BRILLIANT!

My mental squint is in changing my definition of what counts as "writing." I tend to get all up in arms if my word count isn't going up like I want it to. But I have to keep reminding myself that the background work is just as important as getting words on the page.

Thanks, Elana! And hang in. Things will get less crazy - whether because summer strikes, or you find an effective squint.

AE Rought said...

I triage storm weathering by importance, while keeping in mind what storm is the most likely to blow me over. When I'm really clicked into a story, the only thing that will suck me away are the gale force winds of a deadline on a contracted story. So...I guess writings not the problem, pulling my brain away from it is... >_<

Marta Szemik said...

I lock myself up and make a mental promise not to turn on the internet for a few hours or get get up to snack. I have my coffee and water beside me and the only breaks allowed are to go to the washroom. That's when I get most work done.

K.T. Hanna said...

I thwap myself on the head and tell myself to get it done, because no one else will do it.

However, that's probably not going to work forever.

This is a great piece of advice. :D

Also - turning the internet off on my laptop helps ;)

Bish Denham said...

I close my eyes, breathe in/breathe out... maybe go listen to the birds sing... maybe look up at the sky... maybe pet the dog... I do small things to remind me of what is really important. It grounds me and keeps me at the center of the storm, in the eye, where it is calm.

Matthew MacNish said...

I don't. I can only juggle one thing at a time. Lame, I know.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Poorly. I focus very poorly on my writing when I'm swimming in a million different pools. :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

I'm always thinking about my stories. Sometimes it's relaxing to, and it helps to keep my mind off of other storms.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wisdom in that quote.
And I don't focus well on writing when everything is chaos. Fortunately, the chaos just ended!

David P. King said...

I get headaches when I squint too much, but maybe it will be different in front of a computer? That will be my experiment today.

Here's to making the best of your time! :)

Julie Daines said...

The advice I got from Martine Leavitt (National Book Award Finalist) is that if you plan to be a serious writer, you can't have any other hobbies. So there's one thing.

But that doesn't really help with balancing the non-hobby commitments--family, paying job, church...

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Love this quote.

I think I might just have been born with a permanent mental squint.

~ Wendy

Kelly Hashway said...

Congrats, Jenny!

I admit that writing takes the front seat for me. I need to promote more. Though I just spoke to my marketing coordinator for Touch of Death and she has me excited to promote the book. Still have time though. ;)

L.T. Elliot said...

Ooh. I like that. A mental squint. And it's amazing how little hints end up helping us see someone so clearly. Take Tonks from Harry Potter. Everyone pretty much has the same mental image of her--but J.K. never really "described" her a lot. Fascinating.

i'm erin. said...

I definitely need to learn the art of mental squinting. Usually when I'm in the middle of life's storms I don't write. But this year I decided that writing is my get away. And I've done pretty good to lock myself in my room and write away. P.s. I'M SOOOOOO EXCITED...he he.

Theresa Milstein said...

A mental squint, eh? That explains his writing!

You're juggling a lot. I have to give you a lot of credit. You didn't mention you're working on top of everything else.

Jessie Humphries said...

Reading is always a great inspiration for me. I love the way other authors choose to convey things.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Love that image: mental squint. I'm so not subtle though. Ugh.

The Golden Eagle said...

Sometimes I let the writing fall by the wayside, actually, for a little while. But if I need to focus, then I try to give myself a span of time longer than 30 minutes.

Alice said...

I might write less or take a little break, but writing actually helps me get through the other storms. It gives me something to look forward to and takes my mind off of things for a while.

Heather said...

What a cool quote, and an interesting idea. I think I shall try it too!

Nichole Giles said...

I'm not going to lie. I'm not focused AT ALL right now. Querying has completely ruined me for the time being. I'm trying, seriously, to move on another project. But my new characters are strangely silent while I stare at my inbox.

But every day I open the document and at least try. If all I get is one sentence, it's one sentence more than I had yesterday. So at least I'm moving forward, right? Right? Okay.

*head to desk*

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