Thursday, December 20, 2007

No, Really, I'm Working

Kate Elliot posted What is Work? at SF Novelists the other day and talked about all the things she does that don't look like work but really are. It's the sort of post you want to forward to your family and friends, just so you can say, "See! It really is working when I'm staring off into space!" :D

Because of course, everyone who writes already knows that the stuff she described is work, along with whatever other things we do that Kate Elliot doesn't.

Personally, I spend a lot of working time playing a game called Sherlock. It's a shareware game that I got back in the DOS days, and have upgraded several times since. It's an awesome game -- it's a logic puzzle, like the ones you see on paper sometimes, where they tell you the names of six men and six women and their six kids and six pets and their six different colored houses and the six different cars they drive (or whatever collection of data) and then give you clues like, "Joe lives next door to Ellie and does not drive a Ford," and "Mary's child is a boy and her house is neither green nor blue," etc., and you have to fill in a grid to figure out how they all go together. Sherlock does this with a great mouse interface and graphic clues and I heart this game muchly.

I'm not always working when I play it, but sometimes I am. It's perfect for keeping the surface of my mind just occupied enough while my subconscious works something out. I'll often write a few paragraphs, play a few games of Sherlock, write a few paragraphs, play a few games, etc., especially if I'm having a hard time getting the characters from Point F to Point M or whatever.

I was also happy to see that Ms. Elliot and one of the commenters both work while walking, and that the commenter actually talks while walking. This is a great relief to me because I do that too. :) For whatever reason, talking a problem out to myself is more effective at times than just thinking about it, and talking while walking is more effective than talking while just sitting at the keyboard, although that can work too. (I don't know what I'm going to do when my husband retires -- maybe rent an office of my own, so I have somewhere to go where I can talk to myself in private...? :P )

Sometimes I'll get good story ideas during that border-time between waking and sleeping. I've gotten new story seeds that way, and also come up with solutions to story problems while my mind is half-asleep and drifting. Occasionally, if I'm having a hard time with something and other methods aren't helping, I'll go try to take a nap. For whatever reason, lying down and thinking about it with my eyes closed and my body horizontal can spark new ideas. I don't explain it, I just take advantage when I can. [rueful smile] So yeah, sometimes I'm working while napping.

What do you all do that's actually working but doesn't look like it?


PS -- if you've never read any of Kate Elliot's books, she rocks. I highly recommend Jaran, an SF book with a strong fantasyish feel to it (no magic or anything, but most of the action takes place on a low tech planet, with horses and tents and swords and such). She creates wonderful, memorable characters and her worldbuilding is awesome.


Charles Gramlich said...

I do a lot of walking and talking too, although sometimes I am able to talk to myself without speaking out loud. when I'm excited or really rolling on a plan, though, I often talk out loud and even gesture.

Alot of times when I'm reading I'm really partially working on writing as well, getting ideas, riffing off of possibilities, rethinking plot points.

Angie said...

Charles -- right, plot ideas come from everywhere. [nod] And ideas for characterization and settings and gimmicks and twists and whatever all else. Watching movies or TV shows, whether fictional or documentary, reading magazines and blog posts and comic books; it's all grist for the mill.

And it's great that you walk and talk to yourself too. :D