- Posted December 3, 2013 by
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Baker's Dozen Rules for a Better Writing Life: #1
#1 Make Your Home an Island of Tranquility in a Sea of Chaos
The protagonist of your story is running full-out, arms swinging by his sides, legs moving so quickly he stumbles, hits the ground and scrapes the palms of his hands and his knees. He jumps up and takes off again. He is escaping the demon you created on the page—a serial killer, a zombie, his mother-in-law? Whatever he is running from, whatever the danger, he knows as he sees the dead end ahead, slows and turns to face his devil, that he is about to imbibe in the fight of his fictional life.
As the fiend approaches and your fingers move across the computer keyboard like you are composing the theme song to Rocky, you hear a noise. Maybe several noises. Some are real and some are in your head. The beep of your phone indicates a text message or an email has arrived. Or thoughts cloud your mind like an overcast day (yes, thoughts can be noisy). Did I remember to record the latest episode of Homeland? How many books have I sold on Amazon today? Or maybe you think about something related to that job you have which actually pays.
You are trapped in a dead end. Do you check your Twitter account to see if anyone has retweeted the news of your new audio book? Do you scan your emails to see if anything other than spam has arrived? No, you are the hero of your own story and heroes overcome great odds. You turn back to the page and to the protagonist who must free himself from this latest life-threatening predicament.
Your fingers dance across the keyboard again and your character does something unexpectedly awesome. As you’re about to write that scene which will propel him to superhero status and which will be quoted for centuries to come along with other great prose, the phone rings, the kids come home, the dog whines for food.
Okay, the kids are allowed to come home and it’s only fair that the dog gets to announce when she’s hungry. These are intrusions we can welcome into our lives, the things we cannot control which make us whole and prevent us from becoming isolated and boring. Yet there are things we can control to make our home tranquil in a sea of chaos.
Turn off the phone when you write. Resist checking your email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you don’t have to check in with that paying job, don’t. Showtime plays Homeland so frequently if you forget to DVR an episode, it will be easy to catch another time.
For a better writing life and a better life when you are not writing, eliminate the noises of your life: less television, less social media, less drama and conflict (except in your stories).
Embrace the quiet moments as if you are trapped in a dead end and your life depends upon it.