Turning on the Backburner

I’ll let you in on a secret.  I’m not here.  When this goes up Friday morning, I will be far away from here, hopefully most if not all the way up a mountain.

“What does that have to do with anything?” you might ask the Landsquid who is manning the customer service desk and wishes you would go away so he can go back to watching QI episodes on YouTube.

I believe it was Holly Lisle who said to identify a problem and then go do something else.  By not thinking about an issue, your subconscious takes over and works on the problem while you get your dishes done or finally fold your laundry.

Shortly before I sat down to write this, I took a walk.  I’ve been doing this around lunch every day since the beginning of the year.  There’s a two mile loop outside my building.  Mostly I do this because if I don’t escape for the office for a few minutes I will go insane, but I’ve found this is a wonderful time to work on things.  Often I will plot out whatever my writing for the day is (blog posts, scenes, shorts, etc) or ponder plot issues I’ve run into on my larger works.

I’ve found hiking tends to be a wonderful way to let things simmer.  It’s a decent amount of time and you can turn your brain off and just frolic through nature.  There’s nothing quite as freeing as feeling the sun on your face and the wind in your hair and knowing that you can just relax and let things happen because you’ve got some time before you can to return to the real world.

And then when I do sit down to write, things tend to have worked themselves out.  At the end of my walk earlier, I’d figured out the next portion of my serial, come up with several ways to improve on a YA fantasy, and planned out this blog post.   All without really thinking about any of them.  It is brilliant.  The human brain is amazing.

What’s your favorite thing to do while letting your subconscious take over?

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by scribbles on 2011/04/01 at 7:33 PM

    The shower. ^.^ Sometimes I’m dashing out because a solution has presented itself, or I’m getting prune wrinkles all over because I’m watching the ideas work itself out and I want to see where it goes.

    Sometimes I try to mull over plot problems right before I sleep, too. There’s been enough number of times where I wake up and it’s solved itself that I figure it doesn’t hurt.


  2. Posted by Idunno on 2011/04/01 at 8:28 PM

    I too suffer from the curse of the epiphany in the middle of the night / middle of the shower. My subconscious / the aliens broadcasting ideas to me via the fillings in my upper left molar wait until the most inconvenient times to transmit.

    That said, I’ve also had good luck with walks. Though mine have to be in the evening or during the day during cool weather. If it’s hot, I’m too focused on the sweat soaking into my underwear and other physical discomforts to work through story lines or plot holes. But a nice quiet walk on a pleasant evening? I’ve had amazing breakthroughs on those.

    I also have ideas in the car. Driving is a major distraction when it comes to good writing, so it’s hard for me to save those insights if it’s a long drive. I do attempt to record them using the voice recorder feature on my phone, or will scribble them down on a random piece of paper / moving violation stub at stop lights. Assuming the nub of a pencil in the passenger foot well is a) close enough for me to reach and b) has the graphite tip extending past the wooden housing so it will actually write. I have used crayon before, believe it or not. I can’t remember that particular idea, but it must have been a doozy for me to stoop so low as to use a crayon. And don’t ask why there was a crayon in my car – this was before I had kids, and they never travel in that car anyway.


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