Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Rick got my wheels turning on the topic of creativity. I, too, find myself coming up with the solutions to plot problems at the oddest times. Driving often brings on these ruminations, when I should be paying attention to traffic. I’ve even driven by exits, though maybe I shouldn’t admit this publicly. Riding my bike and playing piano scales or arpeggios put me into this problem-solving state, also. I prefer the musical meditations, because they’re safer, but I can’t always control it.

One author I know plays solitaire, though she maintains that it can’t be done on the computer. She has to handle real cards and let her mind dawdle with the number sequences sitting before her. There must be some kind of brain wave activity going on that lets a person do a rote activity while working on a deeper problem. I’m sure there’s a name for it, but I don’t know what it is.

My husband complains that he isn’t creative, but I think he’s wrong. He could be as creative as others, but his job requires that he talk to different people all day long, and this requires a focused, finely directed energy. Which to me is the vigor I need when I type the actual words on the page. Same with editing and reediting. It’s the down time when I come up with what I think are my best plot devices, those twists and surprises.

Say, speaking of down time, do you find that the Internet and email can often derail these gossamer thoughts? It may be that sense of obligation that brings a person to earth, or the act of communicating hard facts. Don’t get me wrong—I love doing Internet research. But one thing leads to another, and hey, I’d better check that fact on Wikipedia before I put it in the story. When exactly did Desert Storm (or fill in the blank) occur? And I didn’t know she married HIM, and wait, he was accused of THAT?

Where was I, anyway?

Perhaps I’m just an undiagnosed ADHD. Or getting old. But I just figured out how my character will evade the desperate mercenary on his tail. I can’t wait to shift gears and write it down.


Rick Blechta said...

Gee, Debbie, I wish I could think of other things when I practise. Then at least I'd have an excuse for all kinds of errors!

About the only instrument I can play and still have a bit of mind left over for daydreaming is the 400-pound mellotron sitting behind me as I write this. There's just something about it that's so freeing.

I agree that driving and "writing" are not a good idea. Did you see that Welsh video. I don't know if I ever want to get in a car again!

Vicki Delany said...

I do think the internet is causing some major changes in the way people think and interact. Not always in a good way. I don't think I've ever gotten an idea, or an inspiration, from the Internet but I sure have wasted a lot of time. On the other hand, of course, is makes fact checking a lot easier. Too easy sometimes?

Debby (Deborah Turrell) Atkinson said...

I waste a ton of time between email and the internet. I'm trying to limit my email checking to twice a day. I remember checking it a couple of times a week.

Rick, what is the Welsh youtube video? Though it's probably going to scare the crap out of me.

Rick Blechta said...

Debby--the video to which I referred was done by the Welsh police or "Heddlu Cymru" and others as a "cautionary tale" about what can happen when one sends text messages and drives. It is graphic as these videos meant to be shown to young people (the ones doing the most texting) often are (ever see "Signal 30" when you took Drivers Ed in high school?) and it makes it clear graphically clear what can happen.

The clip on youtube is only part of the story (the actual accident) and that does a grave disservice to the overall video, as I understand. There's a lot more to the story of the girl driving the car.

A study was recently done here in Canada that demonstrates that people who are over the legal limit of alcohol are less dangerous than people with no alcohol who are texting as they drive — and less dangerous by a pretty wide margin.

Here's the link: ""

Show it to your kids — or watch it yourself if you've done this sort of thing.