Sitting at Your Desk Staring Out the Window With Your Fingers Off the Keyboard

Once upon a time I worked for an evil company in Akron, Ohio. One of their many strange beliefs was that if their writers did not have their fingers on the keys of their keyboards at all times, and those fingers were not moving at all times, they weren’t working.

If you were looking at the screen without moving your fingers, you were slacking.

If you were looking at your desk at one of your desk toys, you were slacking.

If you were looking at one of the expensive prints they put up in your office, you were slacking.

If you looked out the window, you were slacking.

If your fingers were off the keys, you were slacking.

That’s right, they had absolutely no clue as to how creative people work. I guess they wanted you to write and write and write, even if they didn’t give you anything to write, even if you had nothing to write about.

Cogitation – sitting and thinking – is an important part of the process. When I was working on The Company Man, I once spent a day of work lying on my bed with my eyes closed, thinking about the flow of the plot and the corner I had written myself into. I don’t know how long it took me, but I seem to remember being there for quite a while – until I had worked out the answer. I don’t even think I worked on the book any more that day. But I knew where I was going when I sat down to write the next day.

I mention this because Cindy over at A Writer’s Diary has this entry about taking time to think things through as part of the writing process wherein she describes what she needed to do, how she thought about it, how she went about attacking her revision problem once she’d let it simmer for a day, and the fruits of her labors. It’s recommended reading, especially for driven writers who worry about spending a day not writing.

Because most of us with any writing time under our belts know that writers write all the time, whether they’re sitting at a desk wiggling their fingers on a keyboard, or whether they’re staring out the window.

Maybe I should send my former employer a bill for all the time I spent thinking about their work when I wasn’t sitting in their offices.

Just to play catch-up, Monday was another rehearsal for Fiddler. Since I was only in once scene, and I simply walk across the stage toward the end, I spent most of the three hours plugging comments from FR1 and FR2 into one of the reading manuscripts.

Yesterday night, my wife and daughter and I went to see Return of the King again. I liked it the first time, but liked it even more this time. I’d still like Sean Astin to get an Oscar nomination for this one, but this time through I loved Billy Boyd’s performance as Pippin, too. And Hugo Weaving has a nice moment without dialogue where he gives his daughter to Aragorn, knowing that she will eventually die. I think his facial expression is the look that every father has when he presents his daughter on her wedding day, and as such it put a lump in my throat.

Another interesting thing – the three of us have seen RotK twice now, and we didn’t have to pay for admission either time. But that’s a story for another day.

NP – A Jandek playlist that I built in iTunes from various Internet streams.


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