Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blogging the writing process: the gray room

I'm struggling with a piece of writing (as if you couldn't tell) and it turns out that a difficult piece of writing makes the struggling writer extraordinarily inventive when it comes to avoidance techniques, especially those that look like progress in other directions (like cleaning the house).

To break up the cycle, I was able to borrow an unoccupied office on another campus of Northern Clime University for a day or two. The office is gray, as in gray desk, gray walls, and dark gray carpets. Black chair and grey balance ball for sitting at the desk.

It's quiet. It's cool. It's dark. I only had two books with me, and, after installing Freedom, no internet access for periods of time. You'd be amazed at how peaceful it was in there.

While the writing is still at the stage of spectacular awfulness that makes you hurry through it, looking at it sideways lest yet another terrible phrase catch the eye, the point is that it did get started.

Raymond Chandler's idea about writing is that if you get bored enough with your surroundings, you'll start to write out of desperation. The gray room helped to make that happen.


takingitoutside said...

I always end up cleaning when I'm stuck with something. Luckily(?), my spaces are often messy.

... I'm not sure what to do about that.

Arbitrista said...

I think Chandler is exactly right: take away everything but writing and then you have to write.

undine said...

takingitoutside, I do that, too. I think that cleaning (ironically) clears your mind for other things if you're already working. If you get stuck and move around--fold clothes or something--it keeps processing at the back of your mind.

Arbitrista--I think he's right, too, but it's such a time-consuming way to do things, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I'm with takingitoutside on procrastination of choice. My college roommate and I used to joke that our floors sparkled during finals.

I didn't know about Freedom. I'm totally getting and installing. Because my self control for Internet and Twizzlers are about the same: nil. So I don't buy Twizzlers. Too bad the 'Net ain't like that.

Anonymous said...

There are few times when imitating Raymond Chandler is a bad idea. The important thing is to imitate him and not Philip Marlowe, however great the temptation of the trench-coat and the desk-drawer of bourbon.

undine said...

tenthmedieval, that's good advice. I like to think of RC sitting at his desk in that house in La Jolla being just as bored as I am before a great rush of inspiration strikes him.