Thursday, January 21, 2010

When life attacks

I know everyone else who posts here is at minimum very busy, with frequent excursions into Chinese curse interesting territory, and I suspect most of our readers are the same. Most of you have probably worked out I'm now into week three of Chinese curse territory, and my writing output has suffered rather a lot.

My usual methods of dealing with an overload of life, the universe and everything involve computer games with much smashing of stuff, mindless puzzle games (yes, I know that's technically contradictory, but for me, they are), reading if there's a good book or I'm catching up on a new webcomic (lately Girl Genius has been getting the treatment) - anything that I don't have to actively think about but takes all my attention. The thing is, the more interesting life gets, the more of this I need to do before I'm able to write - and then I run into the narcolepsy wall and have to go fall over because the damned alarm goes off way too early on work days. What writing is happening is getting slid between the spaces early in the morning at work, before everyone else gets in and things go crazy again.

Right now, my methods of clearing the mental plate so that writing can happen aren't working too well - what works for everyone else? How do you tell life to take a hike (with or without the one-fingered salute) when it starts getting way too busy and entirely too "interesting" for your sanity?


Anonymous said...

Having discovered Girl Genius last spring around finals, I can attest first-hand that it does an excellent job of taking the edge off ;-)

Likewise, it's always a good idea to keep your shelf well-stocked with a selection of "Comfort Reads" to escape to when life gets all pear-shaped.

Another big stress-reliever for me is to go out and take a long walk -- getting out and getting some fresh air (even if that air is below freezing) really does a nice job of helping the brain reboot.

Amanda Green said...

Kate,you know my methods. I blow things up in video games -- for some reason folks get upset if I try to blow things up in real life. Sigh. Until I beat the stuffing out of my hanging bag, that took a lot of my frustration as well. There's nothing more fulfilling than spending time pounding the hell out of an 80 lb hanging bag with techno music blaring and, if things are really bad, I'm imagining the face of someone who ticked me off on the bag where my gloves are hitting. Other than that, running. In other words, almost anything that leaves me physically drained and gives me time to work out mentally what's bothering me. Then, I either fall face first across the bed in utter exhaustion or I write. Either way, the brain is finally able to think about the current project so I figure that's headway.

Anonymous said...

I've, umm, written a bunch of stuff that will never, ever, see the light of day. You can really brutalize characters when you are in a really vicious mood.

I'm not altogether sure this counts towards getting writing done, although the stuff between the scenes that had to be cut entirely was usable. There was an actual story lurking in there, a bit to my surprise, once I was in a better mood and reread it.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


You are so right. There has to be mental space in which to write, not 'just a room of one's own'.

You've put into words my current problem. I've been feeling really guilty because this is the holidays, and I should be getting a lot of writing done. But all I've done is run from one place to the other, sorting stuff out for my family.

I feel guilty and I feel resentful. And I don't like myself when I'm like this.

I need to clear the mental decks so I can concentrate on a first draft. It's always easier to edit what's there because the frame work is up. But right now I'm building that frame work and I have to find the mental tools each time I sit down to write.

John Lambshead said...

I usually throw up all night and then crash out for two days. I am not recommending this, but it's what I do.

Dianna said...

Have you tried meditation? I don't know about where you are, but in my city (Toronto) there are free groups which lead meditations. A woman came to my school and showed us a form of sound meditation that I find really helpful. Ten minutes of meditation and my mind is calm.

The OnyxHawke Agency said...

For me I need something that will make me laugh a lot. Sites like "FmyLife", "BeingMeSucks", and "Texts from last night" just can't be beat. And a good knockdown, dragout,bare-knuckles-and-bad-attitude, fight sadly at my age they are all verbal or electronic. But also cooking a few of my fave things will help.

Kate said...


Finally caught up tonight - it's awesome.

Brain reboots are always good, unless a real boot is required ;-)

Kate said...


It's such a shame they won't let you blow things up for real. I'm sure you'd be wonderfully creative and make delightful artistic statements, too.

Kate said...


Er... is this where I mention the gratuitous cut scenes involving the gruesome death of someone who pissed me off? Many never get typed - just thinking about it is enough to settle things down.

You don't think that has anything to do with people thinking I'm "scary" do you?

Kate said...


It sounds like you're hitting the "it's only me" wall - I suspect a lot of us are prone to it. We look after everyone else, but we forget to leave time and space for ourselves.

Kate said...


That sounds like a singularly unpleasant way of dealing with it. You are trying to work out a better one, I hope?

Kate said...


I've tried several versions of the cassettes, and then the CDs. They tend not to work too well for mental space. Physical relaxation, fine. My mind seems to have different ideas.

Considering that a lot of what's in there is wired wrong (I'm narcoleptic, so the dream/wake circuitry glitches rather a lot and is made livable by a funfunfun cocktail of medications), it's probably not surprising.

Kate said...


Fail blog is a good one, too, and very demotivational is often brilliant. For cutesy-poo, there's always i can has cheeseburger. Or I can just look around and see what the cats are doing.

Chris McMahon said...

If you can somehow make writing the thing you do to escape and cope you are streets ahead.

Let me know if you manage it and tell me how!

Anonymous said...


You scare people because you're just a little bit "Athena."

My advise is get the gruesome down on paper, and put it in a special file. Then when you need someone to die in a gruesome fashion, you can pull it out, change the names, soften it a bit . . . I hate trying to write something I'm not emotionally set for, and if I'm going back to another POV away from the gruesome, I don't want to be in that mood when I pick the other thread back up.

And it counts as writing, if you *might* need it later. ;)

Dave Freer said...

Um. I go and climb. Or as one my vegetarian friends said, kill things. Or pull up weeds. The climbing is excellent because it is absorbing and frightening and demanding I don't think of other things. It also does give my disasters perspective. But it's not for everyone, I admit. And killing things -crayfish, or fish hs it's limits in winter in your neck of the woods. Maybe get a potted parsley and threaten it ;-) (seriously, excercise is good if you can, and a change of environment (even home re-organize help me. But maybe a remote island was a bit too disturbing...
Hope your life becomes less interesting really soon!

Kate said...

Chris M,

Writing is usually my escape valve, but sometimes I get so overloaded I can't write - which is when the other tactics come into play. It's a rather delicate balance, sometimes.

Kate said...


That's not bad advice. One of my published short stories started life as an exercise in gruesomely offing someone who'd got a bit too far under my skin. (A Spell of Quality, in Misspelled, for those who are wondering).

I'm not sure if I should consider it a good thing or not that I don't have any difficulty getting into "splatter" mode. Usually part of the problem is getting out of it before I get too tempted to act on it.

Kate said...


Climbing sounds like an excellent way to clear the cobwebs out. The killing things, well... There really isn't much here that's easily available for killing, particularly in winter.

The mere act of getting potted parsley is a threat - I have the blackest of black thumbs!

I hope things settle down, too - are they settling for you? Your Flinders Family Freer blog it looks like they are.