I have a writing office, of sorts. It used to be a small bedroom in the back of our bungalow that we lined with bookshelves on two walls. The carpenter built a shelf large enough in the center of one wall to hold my keyboard and the mountain of papers that I can’t seem to ever organize. Above it, there are cubbyholes to hold paper clips, my stapler, and a lot of junk I should sort through. The bookshelves hold the novels I read that I can’t seem to part with–the ones I think someday I’ll reread, but rarely do. But I still can’t get rid of them. Looking at the titles and covers bring back too many good memories, sort of like looking at photograph albums.
I had to give away some of the books that got jammed in here to make way for the overload of Temptation bowls and casserole dishes I ordered from QVC that won’t fit in our kitchen. (An addiction for the moment, but now that the kids have grown up, I can justify matching sets. They might survive without chips). At first, I thought I’d mind having dishes and platters mingled with books, but somehow, it fits my writing style. Cookbooks nestle with mysteries and my favorite urban fantasy authors. A soup tureen sits below the “Scribes” shelf that holds books and articles by friends in my writers’ club.
A parakeet cage hangs in one corner of the room, near the long, narrow window that lets in light. Hermes, our blue parakeet, chirps to me while I write. A dog bed is close to my office chair where my daughter’s rat terrier, that couldn’t move to Indy with her because she’s a nurse who works too many hours, stretches out and sleeps. Our little chihuahua comes and goes, pestering me when he wants something. And the stray cat we made our own leaps on my keyboard when he’s tired of being ignored.
I’ve gone to houses that have serious offices with doors that close. My office has a door, too, but it’s almost always open. For one thing, I’m naturally nosey. If something’s going on, I want to know. Mostly, it’s habit. For over thirty years, kids popped in and out to tell me something or to ask a question while I fussed over stories. Some people complain about distractions, but I enjoy them. If I have to sit too long in too much quiet, my ideas dry up. If I hit a snag in a scene, that justifies a trip to the coffee maker.
“Play some music,” one of my friends told me. But I end up listening to that instead of writing. My story juices flow better when I live inside my head. But if left to myself too long, those ideas just bounce around like tiny ping pong balls, never landing anywhere. That’s when a distraction’s welcome. It gives me time away and lets my subconscious do its thing.
I’ve read a few blog posts about authors who can write 10,000 words in a single day. To me, that’s like Superman, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. If I stayed in my chair and closed my office door, I know I’d get more words done each day, too. But I’d get sick of them. And a large part of why I write is to entertain myself, because I LIKE it. Hopefully, readers will like it, too, but I’m not too into drudgery, and it would show. My brain’s not fast enough to process words and scenes that fast, even if I chained myself to my desk. So for me, I write a scene, then I look for a distraction before I write the next one. And if I can describe that as a method, it works out pretty well.