Sitting in Public without a Device

You’ve probably seen the meme that goes something like this: I saw this person at a coffee shop, sitting alone, not on his phone, doing nothing but sipping his coffee. Like a mad man.
That is of course funny because it’s not often when you see a person in public doing nothing. Just sitting there. Possibly just thinking, to himself. Crazy stuff, right?
Well, as I was sitting in a delightful little restaurant/pub in Ireland, I realized I didn’t have Internet and I was dining alone, so I thought I would try it – just sit there and do nothing until my food came. Easy, right?
At first I didn’t know how to do nothing. I felt self conscious, I didn’t know where to look. How bizarre. I scratched my head. I rubbed my hand across the table. I tapped my finger. I glanced around slowly to see if anyone was looking at me. I’m sure they were. They had to be There was this lunatic just sitting there doing nothing in public. But there I sat, trying to focus on something. Hey look, a salt shaker. Yeah, it was pathetic.
Then the thinking started. It was slow at first, as my mind wavered back and forth between self-consciousness and being distracted by a thought. But then the old writer’s instinct kicked in. I started forgetting where I was, and I thought about the script I was working on. I thought of this character and this person. I thought of how great it’s been hanging out in Ireland, even though I miss my family. By the time my food arrived, I had survived the passing of time without talking to anyone and without using a digital device, and I didn’t have it devolve into some ominous plot against humanity. One can survive without a device in public.
Ok, so now I proved to myself that it can be done, I better open Evernote and jot all this down for my blog before I forget the experience. Don’t worry. I can write this note while I’m off-line.

Writer’s Block Because of Distraction

I currently cannot write. It has nothing to do with a lack of ideas, interesting characters, or twisting plot-lines in my head. I have plenty of those. I can’t write because I’m distracted, and this fact has actually taught me a few things about writing.

First off, I’m distracted over drama. I write, direct, produce a lot of drama, and while usually that fact unleashes the creativity inside of me, I have noticed this time around, as my show is about to open, the distraction of the endless menial details of putting on a show has completely blocked me off from the story I have been writing.


When I sit down to write, I can’t get all of the stress of the show off my mind. Continuing to write my novel at this moment becomes a burden which I currently can’t bear.

Here is what I have learned about writing:

1) Writing takes concentration and focus. Story and character development isn’t invented on a whim. Okay, sometime it is, but to delve beneath the skin of a character and to peel back the layers of a story require ones undivided attention. My attention usually comes and goes in two hour spurts. I am completely immersed in my writing and this new world, and when I come up for air, I have to do something else for a while. Usually that means that my writing session is over the day. But this week, as I’m staring at my show opening in a couple days, my brain is too scattered to think of anything else.

2) Writing takes energy. Beyond the concentration and focus, writing takes a good deal of energy. These last couple of weeks, I have been lacking in energy, and all energy I have has been channeled into my show. I don’t have much left for my novel at this point.

3) Writing takes unimpeded time for thinking. This is perhaps the biggest reason why I can’t do any writing until after my show finishes in a week. Writing is thinking. I have said this many times. But when my thought processes keep defaulting on ticket sales, stage-set up, and last minute details, I simply don’t have the time to think. Therefore, I don’t have the time to write.

But that’s okay. Because in a week, after I collapse from a full week of theatre, I know I have a manuscript waiting patiently for my attention, and I’m sure I’ll once again be ready to give it the time, concentration, and energy it deserves.

Actually, I can’t wait.

Thinking is Writing (aka: writing in a pool)

Thinking is writing.

I’ve said this before, but the longer I’ve been a writer the truer it becomes. (Sometimes to the detriment to the people around me. I am not ignoring you on purpose.)

A writer friend mentioned yesterday that I should do some writing without paper, pencil or device. I took the advice. I jumped into the pool and just soaked for a good long time, basking in the tropical environment around me. Since I was alone, I had nothing to do but think, so I wrote – in my mind. I pondered the two novel ideas (not new ideas, literally novel ideas) that I’ve been trying to decide between. (preposition – live with it) The first one I had previously started, and I assumed it was the one I should continue. But the second one has an intriguing premise which might have a broader appeal.

What to do? Continue soaking in the pool.

The mind of a writer constantly weaves in contradicting directions. Who came tame it? I do think that sometimes people believe I’m unfriendly or don’t want to talk with them, but that is not the case at all. I am usually lost in some plot-line or thinking how a character should talk based on a conversation I just overheard. The surrounding world is the writer’s tableau, its the writer’s sensory input, its the writer’s raw materials and product. And what better way to explore it than through the silent mind of observation.

After soaking some more, I did pull up a chair at a nearby table and opened the laptop. I spent an hour and a half on my first idea, creating its second chapter and beginning to flesh out some of the characters. But as I finished, I couldn’t help but wonder if I should switch over to idea 2.

Perhaps it’s time to do some additional soaking this afternoon.