writing about writing

A Gabbly Environment

Posted by Flood on June 13, 2006

There's a lot of activity around me at home no matter what room I'm in, so I spent 4 hours at the library on Saturday. I got more done in that time than I did in the previous week. I credit this to several things. First, my laptop couldn't pick up a wireless signal, so when I got stuck on something, I couldn't surf around for a while and get lost in other people's work. I was forced to labour on it without distraction. Eventually, I was working back and forth on two projects, as I tired of one or the other.

Secondly, I was in a new environment, and one that breeds writing.

Third, the library can be a great place to people watch. Lots of interesting character studies there, and most people are so wrapped up in what they are doing, they can't tell that you are taking notes about them. I was privileged enough to watch two adults argue over using a computer.

Stout Little Balding Man: (booming voice) Sorry there, Miss! I have these two computers booked for the next two hours!
Curly Haired Angry Lady: (stern voice) Well how come I am still logged in, then?
STBM:They've been booked since yesterday, dear. I am not trying to be rude, but I'm telling you it's my turn now. Mom, hang on we'll get this sorted.
CHAL:I am not letting you log in on my time. The computer tells me when I am finished! Not you.
STBM: I'm getting the librarian.
Scared Librarian: (meekly) I'm sorry, but these computers are booked for the afternoon.
CHAL: That's just fine. I'll get up when I get an apology.
Scared librarian: I'm sorry. Our mistake. You are welcome to log-in on another station.
STLBM: Technology isn't all they say it is, dear. They've screwed with my time, too.
CHAL: Whatever. (gets up to move on)
STLBM: I'm not trying to anger you, dear. I am being self-defecating. Deprecating!

The man spends the next hour teaching his mom how to open her hotmail, and then goes out to smoke. He gave me a wink on the way out. I hope I see them again.

Still, I got a lot done. Worked on my current project and did research for another. Three flashes for the Gutter (2 went up on the weekend) and outlined my blogging entries for the week. Total success. Plus, the whole experience knocked me back into some self-discipline.

Invention Strategies (UofW, Stevens Point) suggests the following fun ways to get unstuck:

Change your writing environment

Write in a different place (indoors, outdoors, elevators, closets, cars, cafe's, on the toilet, while eating, anywhere you're bored, at the gym, in a bubble bath, in a meeting, at or away from computer, at or away from keyboard, while walking like the British poets did, sit in a seat you've never sat in before, sit in a rocking chair, go fishing without bait like Edison did, at a daycare, in a playground, one of your favorite places, etc..)

Write in different lighting (in the dark, wearing sunglasses, wearing 3-D glasses, in a room with stained glass, with one eye closed, strobe lights, randomly clicking in FINALE with your eyes closed, etc..)

Write at different times (in the middle of the day, first thing in the morning, right before you go to bed, in class, during church services, surprise attack–set your alarm for 3:30am, during sunset, during meals, etc..)

Write for different periods of time (write for 30 seconds, 10 seconds, 5 minutes, 30 minutes, one minute, an hour, until you get an idea you can use, pull an all-nighter, etc..)

I dunno about that toilet thing.

Out of all the expert tips offered to make sure my pen is on fire, changing my writing environment is the most practical for me, and for now, works like a charm. Do you change your writing location regularly? What works for you?

Fun toy alert: We've all seen blogs that include tag or shout boxes. A way to test that kind of feature, without committing anything to your template, is Gabbly. Add "http://gabbly.com/" before the URL with which you want to chat with others. Users can even use the RSS in the window to keep track of new posts. Let your readers know you are trying it out and see if it takes off. Note: If you can't use instant messengers or chat programs from work, this probably isn't a good idea. You can test it on my blog now by clicking here.


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