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Jay Lake
Date: 2012-04-06 08:37
Subject: [process] Going into book mode
Security: Public
Tags:friends, personal, process, work, writing
Well, I'm back on first drafting a novel. Which I haven't done since last summer/fall. As my close friends and family know, when I'm drafting a novel I get a little weird. I assume this is true of most writers.

I call this "book mode".

What happens is I focus obsessively on the writing process. My priorities shift where I'll pass up most things other than the items at the peak of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Working the day jobbe to provide food and shelter, parenting my child, tending my most important emotional and social connections.

Everything else sort of fades into the background. It becomes difficult to socialize casually with me. My responsiveness to email and social media drops off a lot. My pleasure reading drops close to nothing. I sleep less, take fewer showers, seek meals which require a minimum time to acquire/create/cook and to consume. I tend to be thinking the world of the story rather than the world of real life. It's a much deeper immersion than I go through when working on short fiction, for reasons which seem obvious to me.

All in all, this makes me a bit spacey, slow and goofy. And distracted. Did I mention that I'm writing a book?

So if you're a friend or someone who loves me, well, I apologize. This is part of having a writer in your life. As most people reading here already know all too well from their own experience, I'm sure.

Do you go into book mode? What does it do to and for you?

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User: matt_doyle
Date: 2012-04-06 16:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I do this whenever I start a new project, but it doesn't last all the way through. And thank God for that, because right now I'm still a very slow writer. But the first week or two, always, and often it happens again if I get stuck and then have a major breakthrough; or when I'm close to finishing a big important section.
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User: etcet
Date: 2012-04-06 16:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm just discovering it, so I still need to coerce myself into writing space. If and when the words insist on getting out of my head and onto the page, they'll probably displace lower-priority things.
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User: jimvanpelt
Date: 2012-04-06 18:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I was talking about the writer' brain just the other day at http://jimvanpelt.livejournal.com/396915.html. When I'm deep into story mode, that is that I'm writing in all the niches of my day, I'm pretty distracted. This is why it's a bad idea for me to write during the school day. I might have forty-five minutes during a planning period, and I can write during that time, but my brain takes a while to disengage from story-mode to teacher-mode. Also, it screws up my attitude: instead of being happy that the kids are coming into the room, I'm annoyed. All I want to do is to tell the story.
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Musical Musings
User: amysun
Date: 2012-04-06 18:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes, and I love it, even though it can be inconvenient. It mostly means what it means for you, that I do the things I "have" to do and other things get left by the wayside. Also I find my brain is so focused on the book that I'm not thinking about as many other subjects on a regular basis as I usually do.
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The Green Knight
User: green_knight
Date: 2012-04-06 19:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I do my best to make the mode switch more deliberate. I could very easily spend weeks in story mode... but the dishes will remain unwashed, the rent unpaid, and that's just not a viable mode of existence. (Working as a freelancer means that I need to prioritise work at any time and react to opportunities and queries *now*, not 9-5, Mon-Fri). So I cannot enter too deeply, I cannot spend too much time there all in all. On the other hand, I am trying to use more of the downtime my life offers: breakfast-and-500-words, fifteen minutes while I weed the garden, brain break from translation to work out the next scene.
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User: nicosian
Date: 2012-04-06 20:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Knee deep in it. Friends have learned that messaging me on FB while I'm in the late hours of being immersed in writing, that I might not switch out of writer mode. Words fly off the screen in reply that are more what the characters would say, not me, sometimes to weird effect. ( friends are used to this.)

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Leah Cutter: Bubbles - Peri
User: lrcutter
Date: 2012-04-07 04:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Bubbles - Peri
Absolutely go into book mode. Used to be scared of it, because I'd get so disconnected with the world. I seem to be able to switch a bit better now, between living in the story and coming back here. But I get very non-responsive, not that anyone can tell because I'm never very responsive to start with.
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Gary Emenitove
User: garyomaha
Date: 2012-04-07 13:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's not limited to writing. Back in the glory days of radio, I would get totally immersed in editing. For years this meant in a studio with razor blade and grease pencil. Later it meant sitting in front of a computer. Totally lost track of time, totally focused on the project du jour. (And for those who knew me, they knew that meant -- gasp! -- even skipping a meal some times, or -- horrors! -- getting to bed late.)

Not precisely the same thing as "book mode" but similar.
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User: kellymccullough
Date: 2012-04-07 20:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I actually become more social and generally easier to live with when I'm drafting a book. It's when I'm not writing that I get really strange. It does take a bit of work to come up out of book when I go out and do things after the writing day, but I'm much more enthused about doing things when I'm actively writing.
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