The best idea I had for my first book came while I was raking leaves the backyard with my dog and realized that my main character also needed a dog. And then, to the soothing sounds of my rake scratching through the grass while I gathered cottonwood leaves into piles, I worked through the all the ways my character could and couldn’t acquire her new best friend. When I sat down to write, I knew exactly what she would do.
Back then, I had lots of time to think things through. Social media wasn’t a big deal yet. Streaming video wasn’t a thing. My phone only made phone calls. There was much blank headspace to be had. Even when I had a full calendar, I still got stuck in line at the post office, and we did not yet have the technology to tweet about it. My writing time felt like downloading. I’d write eight pages for writing group in a few hours on a Sunday night, because I’d spent all week thinking about it.
But the internet took over. It got too easy to fill downtime. Not just in hedonistic ways. I do most of my research via audiobook when I’m walking or cleaning, and I’m grateful to be able to learn while I’m in motion. But my free thought time has become jam-packed with structured thought. With other people’s thoughts. While I was vaguely aware of this, and somewhat troubled by it in a distant, nagging way, I didn’t realize how much of a problem all the noise was until I started sewing. [Read more…]