Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Writing Process, Complete with Repo Guys

With most creative ventures, I find that being in "The Zone" is a crucial step to having anything be accomplished. What does being in "The Zone" mean? For me, this includes having some quiet time with my thoughts and being in an environment that stimulates my thought processes. Certain factors to set the right atmosphere may include listening to soothing music, supplying myself with cold beverages and munching on Stacy's "Simply Naked" Pita Chips. This usually works well enough until I cave in to my vice of goofing off for hours on the internet.

Nota Bene: Blogging may or may not be classified under said "goofing off."

To help stave such a temptation, I call in reinforcements in the company of my good friend May. May is a bibliophile and a brilliant linguist whose avid passion for Japanese culture and language matches what I feel for French. While we both cherish and enjoy each other's presence, we don't meet up merely for shits and giggles. Oh, no. Our get-togethers are serious business.

The moments spent together have resulted in hours of productive brainstorming, bouncing ideas off each other, and trying to catch ephemeral wisps of words that float around until we've found the perfect one. This is what we call Writers' Night.

In the past few months, she and I have spent several writing sessions dedicated to imbibing Starbucks coffee, critiquing various passages and character development, and cranking out paragraphs until one in the morning. I think we both agree that by assisting each other, we manage to restore sanity by ignoring the little negative voice in our head that insists we are absolute failures and making it shut up. Most importantly, we encourage each other to keep on writing.

Being good friends, Writers' Night does indeed feature some joking around, but some sessions go well enough, meaning that we get things done. We sit successfully for long spans while either a pen scribbles the ideas that pop into our minds or our fingers furiously type away, the hard clicks and clacks of the keyboard punctuating the silence in the room, as we churn out pages of our novels and increase our word count.

For other Writers' Nights, our sessions don't fare as well. On "off" nights, when we can barely focus our attention to the task before us, we count ourselves lucky if we reached a set word count goal or if by the end of the night, after several fruitless hours of staring at the glowing computer screen, we have managed to scrap enough words together that resulted in one, coherent sentence.

I also admit that while we are in the middle of a Writers' Night, I can be a horrible procrastinator, especially when I feel zapped of inspiration. With my jokes, goofing off, and general, wandering goldfish-esque attention span, I prove to be rather counter-productive to the activity of actually writing something, and, very often, I become the bad influence who diverts May's attention from writing to talking about T.V. shows like  Doctor Who and to watching videos on the internet.

May, however, is very nice and refers to my distractions as "breaks."

(In my defense, I find that these distractions breaks help stimulate our minds as they snowball into conversations that are entertainingly semi-intellectual.)

A typical Writers' Night for us often goes like this:




















And so we go to Wendy's and nom our dinner. Once we've become more alert by having fuller stomachs, it's "back to work."






During said trip to get coffee and tea at a local supermarket, we found Crunchy Speculoos waiting for us on the peanut butter shelf. We bought a jar and proceeded to consume its contents during the night.



That was a definite good sign in my book. I had never tried the stuff back in France so it was blast to feed our addictions share this new experience with May. Soon, it was "back to work."












(Seriously. This will blow your mind.)




And just like that, Prisencolinensinainciusol becomes our unintelligible background music for the evening.

Our most recent Writers' Night was certainly different from the previous ones. I mean, we did the usual. We parked the car in a public shopping center, loaded up on our go-to yummy foods and drinks and worked at writing something good.

Yet things were different that night.

I am happy to report that session was, by far, the most productive one we've had to date. We each managed to each jot down 1,500 words for our novels and  met new total word counts. Good signs all around.

The best part was that at the end of the night, we both felt great about what we were writing. It was as if by having certain passages come together, we had obtained the clarity of knowing that everything is going to be all right. I wish that feeling could always be with us all of the time.

However, there was one thing that could have possibly dampened our effervescent mood...





No, my Ford Focus wasn't planning to copulate with a truck and make minivans.

Thanks to having left the car parked in a public shopping center well-past midnight, we were THISCLOSE to having the Repo guys tow it away. We encountered them just as they were making a break for it with the car. I screeched in fright and May tapped into her inner Usain Bolt, sprinting behind them and yelling at them to stop.

Between the two of us, May and I (but mostly May) paid the hefty transaction to get the car back. The fee may or may not have included having to promise handing my future first-born child over to supply their company with more manpower so they can carry on with their Repo Towing ways. The head Repo guy also tried to short-change us by ten bucks (despite claiming that he had done us a favor).

I, of course, thanked the man who relinquished the car and tried to engage in polite conversation with his partner, but the other Repo man was clearly too busy sitting in the truck and checking phone to even look at us. I suspect that he was updating his Facebook status while on the job.




I bet The Doctor never had to worry about having Repo guys take the TARDIS. When he wasn't travelling through space and time, he was probably sensible enough to have paid for metered parking.



By the way, nearly having your mode of transportation be hauled away at one in the morning is an excellent way to get some adrenaline pumping through your system. That natural high of having to avoid waking up someone else to give me a ride also gave me the impression that everything is gonna to be all right.

...Okay, okay. I may have been pushing my "everything is gonna be all right" luck and reading too much into things with that last one, but it was still pretty close.

And May: don't worry. Once I get over watching YouTube clips and become a published author, I will pay you back!

Barb the French Bean

52 comments:

  1. The doctor still has to be careful where he parks: http://tinyurl.com/87dvz85

    I could so easily distract anyone by talking about Dr Who as well. My go to Dr Who youtube video is Time Crash :)

    The writing night sounds like a great idea (even when it does not go quite to plan).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That video and cartoon were awesome! XD

      Delete
  2. Okay yes the Italian guy did blow my mind. I think there have been a few times when The Doctor leaves the TARDIS behind somewhere and comes back to find it gone, but I don't think people think to repossess a phone box. I have nowhere near the concentration levels to sit and write for a long period of time like that, or to chase down repo-men who joke about rape on Facebook.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess it takes skillz (yes, with a Z) to be able to do that. :)

      Delete
  3. I have long thought that Youtube is the enemy of writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And it is, for the most part, but there are some brilliant YouTubers who, coincidentally enough, are good writers.

      Delete
  4. These writing sessions sound like a brilliant idea. Unfortunately, most of my friends are just as bad, if not worse than me at procrastinating. Can I come to your writing sessions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How soon can you make it to Florida?

      Delete
  5. Your writing sessions are awesome. Just getting to sit down and toss your ideas around with someone else who knows what your struggling with is amazing. Add in the Starbucks, music, sweets and you've got a recipe for success!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! That is exactly what I'm talking about! :D

      Delete
  6. Oh no Repo man! Luckily you caught him just in time. I can never do writing sessions, I get distracted too easily. My best bet is to sit at a library, otherwise I will have an excuse for not writing.

    - Hanny

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, this just occurred to me: "Repo Man" sounds like the name for a very crappy, but scary, villain.

      "Duh na-na-na, duh na-na-na REPO MAN!"

      -Barb

      Delete
  7. Oh I'm jealous, your writing sessions sound so like so much fun. Lauren Cooper? Lauren Cooper is banned from my flights, but I'm watching that clip again when I get to the hotel. Funny post.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a fun writing session. I'm a bit jealous. Thanks for the 'English' clip. You're right, it was amazing. Happy you got your car back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me, too. :P Otherwise, I might have had to hoof it back home!

      Delete
  9. Don't forget the fact that Repo Man said he was doing us a favor, and then tried to short-change us.

    James says that the only reason we got the car back is because the other one was there; as long as they got their haul, it didn't matter and they made money on the side. -_-;;

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's right! He tried to short-change us by ten bucks! XD

      I wonder how the other unfortunate soul dealt with having to recuperate their missing car the following day...

      Delete
  10. How fun to have a brainstorming partner like that! It's amazing to find a person you can accomplish so much with!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is, especially when it comes to having fun company. :)

      Delete
  11. Replies
    1. As far as I'm concerned, you're in! :D

      Delete
  12. These writing sessions look great! makes the crap we do in english seem like the most boring thing in the world!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha. I guess it's all a matter of perspective. ^.^

      Delete
  13. I could never do a writing session with another person cuz I'd be such a cut up, I'd get nothing done. Looks like fun tho! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'll never know until you try it!

      Delete
  14. Actually, I believe in one Doctor Who episode, he left the Tardis in a parking garage and it got repo'd so he had to go recover it. I think that one was a David Tennant one, too. /Doctor Who nerd

    These writing sessions are a lot like the ones Brandon and I have... 50% youtube, 49% beer, and... how much does that leave for actual writing...?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really??? o_O I must watch it NOW.

      As for the remaining percentage: .25 for laughing, .25 for cracking jokes, .50 for writing. ^.^ Sounds about right!

      Delete
  15. Your blogs always make me chuckle with the cartoons and videos. Thank you! It's also helpful to see what others do to stave off writer's block.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome. :) My worst writer's block to date took over two months. Bad times.

      Delete
  16. You were right, that song DID blow my mind! 0_0

    ReplyDelete
  17. LOL.

    I hadn't watched the Comic Relief video before--thanks for sharing that one.

    ReplyDelete
  18. "Goofing off" may be part of the creative process. Though if we are not careful we may spend more time goofing off than being creative.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a difficult balance to maintain the right level of goofing off and productivity. Still, all work and no play make people quite dull!

      Delete
  19. Too funny! The entire post. As I started to read it, I thought about how envious I was of you--having a friend and critique partner. None of my friends write. And then as the post progressed, well, I admit, I am still envious of having someone to laugh with and goof off with on writer's night, but my lord! How do you ever get anything done?? lolol... Wonderful post :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sometimes have to wonder how indeed we get anything done, really. I'm lucky that I have a friend who understands what it's like to need to write well. :)

      Delete
  20. "No, my Ford Focus wasn't planning to copulate with a truck and make minivans."

    LOL somebody should pay you to just churn out one-liners.
    Loved the clips too, and as Teressa above says, damn jealous you have a writing partner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, thank you! I'll be sure to keep 'em comin'. :D

      Delete
  21. Dejavu there right there - all study groups and episodes.
    There is no word "precrastinator" to prove the fact that
    "to err is human, to procrastinate is to reiterate the fact that we are indeed human"
    Love the duo work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heh. I do think that a bit of stalling could also be applied. ^.^

      Delete
  22. I have yet to master the art of two people together writing, but that's also because I'm up and down from my computer with great frequency. My husband works from home now and he's beginning to think I have ADD. I love that Catherine Tate clip and have watched it multiple times in the past few months. Never seen the Italian one but I have always wondered what English speakers sound like since we like to imitate other languages with nonsensical words. It was cool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do recommend having a friend who you can trust with your works so the critiquing can be happily mutual. :)

      Delete
  23. Very funny post! I enjoy writing with a friend at Starbucks or the library, but we never get much writing done; brainstorming, yes, but writing, no. I like the comic strip approach. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was always a fan of comics as a kid. ^.^ (To be honest, we're lucky to even get much writing done in the first place, ha!)

      Delete
  24. Great post, Barb, this was just hilarious--and such cute cartoons! My daughter and I do something similar when we get together to create our artist trading cards. Wine is always involved. And lots of hilarity. And tons of procrastination. But we have a hell of a good time...and sometimes even manage to get a bit of artwork done too.

    The video with the pretend English was fabulous. They must have had quite a time trying to memorize those crazy lyrics! LOL

    When it comes to writing, I must be completely alone. I can never get any real quality writing done when someone else is in the room. So I think it’s awesome that you and your friend can get together to write and not only have plenty of fun, but actually get some writing accomplished too! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tend to have the inspiration for my greatest ideas (well, I think they're pretty rad) whenever I am around others, much like what happens when I start to shower and a brilliant notion sneaks up on me out of the blue.

      But most of the actual writing is rather solitary. I especially love it when I start to work and can have several hours pass without even noticing. ^.^ Such a wonderful feeling!

      Delete
  25. Cartoons, videos, repo men! I feel so inadequate.
    Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't be! I'm sure the Repo Men can also haul your car away. :P

      Delete
  26. The American English video ... my brain hurts from trying to understand the words!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's just so crazy. The truly horrible part is that the tune gets stuck in your head and you can't even sing along to it. --.--

      Delete

Apparently, leaving comments on this blog is a hit-or-miss game of Russian roulette: you are either lucky and can comment away, or you are required to log in when the settings are CLEARLY set to allow trouble-free commenting (sorry 'bout that, folks). If anything, the Facebook page is always a viable option. :) -Barb