I have a best friend. He is a lovely, intelligent person. However, he has just been demoted because he doesn’t do something important for me:
He doesn’t help me defeat writer’s block.
My life is busy. I’m a student, a parent, a writer, an employee, and a business owner. I have a phone, tablet, or Kindle in my hands 24/7, and if I do not, it’s because I’ve got my hands on one of my computers. My human best friend gets worried when I take longer than a half hour to respond to a text. Bless his sweet little cotton socks.
However, as a writer, I know that sometimes I need to unplug … mostly
I compose electronically. I type over 90 wpm (more if I’m all hotted up about something), and my handwriting is terrible. I type everything. However, as writers know, it’s very easy to go from la la la writing click click to hey, I just spent two hours looking at cat videos.
Unplugging is the answer. Better still, unplugging and getting to your happy writing place so that you don’t feel the pain of being unplugged.
Banger, my happy writing place is not suitable for electronics
Oh, my writer friend, I feel your pain. Neither is mine. I do my best writing when water is involved, be it a bath, a lake, a boat, whatever. For some reason, if I have writer’s block, a shower washes it away. Need to come up with a story? Water. I’ll be ready to write before my fingers are even wrinkly. Try it. You may be surprised.
My devices do not like water. They do, however, fit in these:
I love Ziploc bags. Did you know that any size iPhone (yes, even those enormous 6+ ones) will fit in a quart-sized ziploc? So will most Kindles. And capacitive touch screens work through Ziploc bags.
While I cannot (for liability reasons) say that a Ziploc will make your devices safe for use anywhere you go, if you use them and you are careful about sealing them, you may feel more comfortable bringing them to the bath, the shower, the beach, the lake, and so on. At the very least, you’ll keep them safer from other environmental issues like sand and dirt. Then you can use them without fear, wherever your happy writing place is.
Banger, are you seriously suggesting that I compose on my phone?
Well … yes. I’m aware that typing on a phone is more cumbersome than on a laptop. That said, many of us are pretty good at it now, and if you’re a writer who hates the interface, take a moment to think about what part of it you hate the most. Is it the writing, or the reading?
I also thought that composing on a phone would be a terrible idea, until I tried it and realized that what I didn’t like about it was trying to read long compositions on the phone. As far as typing them, however, I was able to hit flow just as easily using the phone as the laptop.
In fact, maybe even more so. If I had to put my finger on why composing on the phone works so well for me, it hinges on a few things:
It gets me outside of my work environment
If I’m on my phone away from my computer, I’m not as tempted to answer e-mails, check in at work, or do other activities that are a bit distracting. I’m “away” from work, and that physical change helps underline that.
It gets me focused on one thing
A phone has a small screen which can only focus on one task. That leads me to be more focused.
It slows me down–and that’s good
If I’m galloping through writing something, I might not take the time to mentally explore everything about my scene, the characters and their needs, and so on. Typing a little more slowly gives my brain time to really dive into the scene and see it, not just machine-gun fire words onto the screen.
It lets me take notes
If I’m not into full-fledged writing mode yet, I can use voice or written notes to prompt me for when I am, later.
I can dictate
Even without a headset, you can dictate long pieces of writing into your phone, either as a recording or as a voice transcription. Be prepared for some comedy errors if you’re transcribing. More importantly, be prepared for the effect of “speaking for” your characters if you’re dictating. You may find they gain more depth, feeling, and personality.
Free yourself and your devices: grab a Ziploc
This summer, grab a new outfit for your favorite mobile friend, and get out of the spare bedroom, the Starbucks, the library, or wherever you write, and experiment with writing on the go. Wrap up your devices safely in a plastic bag, if needed, and free your devices too!
(Oh, and if you need power for your devices on the go, too, I have one of these. Love it!)