Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Giving Up

I used to spend a lot of time listening to other people talk (no, really). Leonard Lopate (my absolute favorite), Dr. Oz, Jean Chatzky, NPR, and BBC filled my non-reading, solitary time. I had a whole spate of podcasts on everything from lean manufacturing to grammar. I listened while I walked the dog, drove the car, mowed the lawn, painted a room, worked out, got ready in the morning…you name it.

Then one day, I decided to try writing again, and suddenly all of that listening material got in the way. If someone else was talking, I couldn’t hear myself think about my story and my characters. I dropped all of my podcasts and radio shows in favor of using that precious solitary time to think about my writing.

The downside is that I’m no longer exposed to the thoughts and ideas that actually might provide more fodder for my books. And, I miss the interviews with authors, curators, politicians, performers, lexicographers, grammarians, chefs, financial gurus, scientists, and heroes.

Hmm.

Maybe it’s time to stop listening only to myself and start listening to more interesting people again.

Maybe a fantastic story idea is actually lurking in the next podcast.

Maybe I can find a way to catch my favorite topics without consuming all of my spare time.

Hmm.

“Honey! What’s that iTunes password again?”

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What have you given up for your writing, and could you find a way to get at least part of it back?

11 comments:

Christine said...

I used to scrapbook all the time. I miss it. But it was a form of collage and writing that I've incorporated into my writing life. I've given up leading bible studies, too. I used volunteer a lot at the schools. Now, not so much. I also used to go out with friends more. And I used to read the news more as well. Heck, I used to read more!

I try to do the news, the reading and the playing in spurts after I finish major writing projects. I like to give myself a week during which I let my mind empty and take in new data.

You're right. New stories are in the news (like how about that balloon boy? There's a twisted story for sure). Or they are discovered while on vacation. I do believe it is important to have a life outside of writing.

Maybe you can do that--listen to the interviews and podcasts when you are between projects and let them filter into your subconscious for your future projects.

Cari Hislop said...

Since I started seriously writing I rarely feel like reading other fiction. So one could say I've given up fiction for fiction. I think its because I spend so much time in a fantasy world that when I come out I want to read non fiction. I want to read the news. I want stories that are real and bizarre!!! Life is definately stranger than fiction.

I think you should carve out time for your podcasts. If you're worried about the voices drowing out your characters you could just listen during set times, like exercising or walking the dog. I think if you crave podcasts then denying yourself may hurt your writing. As artists we need to allow the other parts of us time. I'm finding I feel happier as a writer if I also allow myself to spend time sewing or painting or creating in other ways. I made some necklaces out of buttons one week. I sat here and listened to some tv show on youtube and just slowly and carefully debated over each button and then strung them on the waxed cotton cord... It was very relaxing and made the designer part of me feel really happy. I wore the long necklace to church and several people admired my efforts which then made me even happier. I think all the things we enjoy doing feed our writer and help us writer better stories.

Gwen Hernandez said...

At first, I didn't want to listen to the podcasts anymore, but now I definitely plan to work a few of them back into my life.

I definitely guard my time a lot more, in general. I volunteer less often, I read fewer books (except for this month), I limit my social activities and errands.

But, in the end, I'm finally doing what I really want to be doing, so it's all good!

Jeanie said...

I don't have time for television anymore. I still read, but not nearly as much. And I don't read paranormal, 'cause that's what I'm writing. So I'm like the only person on the planet that hasn't read TWILIGHT. I also used to scrapbook and I don't do that anymore. The several thousand photographs of my children that I used to take a year has dwindled to a few hundred, maybe even less.

Oh, yeah, and housework and cooking. Don't do as much of either as I used to. Can't say I miss either one of those, though!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Jeanie: I'm with you on the housework and cooking! I've definitely cut down on my TV watching, too. Although, my husband being in school right now has probably helped.

And you're not alone. I've never read TWILIGHT either! ;-)

JoAnn said...

The first thing I gave up was housework. And I do not want that back, although I think my family might feel differently. The other thing I gave up? My sanity. And I would like some of that back, but I'm afraid I'm too far gone. :-)

Callie James said...

I've given up housework, homework, TV, movies, and reading lots of books.

I'm doing well if I read a book every month. My husband records everything so on Friday when I'm bleary-eyed from working all week and can't write a word, we watch a few shows.

Yes. I miss everything. I long for the day I can write full time, not so I don't have to do the day job so much as that I can get a social life back.

And I haven't read Twilight either. :(

Christine said...

I don't know if writing full time will change what we give up. JR Ward writes 365 days a year, no vacation. She has no kids but she does write all the time.

It's like a bizarre addiction. Once you start, you can't stop, and you need more more more.... I'm constantly trying to figure out how to squeeze writing time in and add to my productivity.

M.V.Freeman said...

I gave up my drawing and painting when I decided to write.

But I still read. :0) I also gave up time with other people.

*sigh*

WRiting is a solitary pursuit..so I had to give up something! :-)

(Now about those podcasts of yours, they would drive me nuts to listen to, LOL, my hubby LOVES that stuff. I need music instead.)

Christine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Callie James said...

Well, I'm not saying I wouldn't write every day of the year (because it's truly what I love), I just wouldn't be working 18 of 24 hours each day, and maybe I could spend a few hours with my husband each week.