Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday Writerly Way ~ Brain Farts & What to Do About Them

This week I'm talking about brain farts. They aren't the loud and prolonged type, but the silent but deadly kind. Just like the gaseous emissions from our rear ends, brain farts happen to all of us. Writing is no exception.

Have you ever thought of the perfect dialogue or scene, but by the time you get to your computer to jot it down...it's gone. Try as you might you can't remember what was so perfect a moment ago...that's a brain fart. Have you ever written dialogue or scene and in rereading it realize that its gibberish and doesn't fit at all...that's a brain fart. I could probably list a thousand of them here that I've encountered during my writing playtime. I say playtime because writing is something I enjoy doing instead of thinking of it as work. Although since my stroke, its been far more work than play over the past year.

I've found a few things that worked, pre-stroke that worked in combating brain farts when writing...
  • Outlining your book
  • A tape recorder
  • A small note pad and pen

Even if you are a pantster, you have a rough idea of who your main characters are and what they desire most. You even have a rough idea of the obstacles they have to face and how they are going to step up to the plate and solve. You just do it all in your head instead of putting thought to paper like I do.

My outlining technique is an ever evolving one until "the end." The only exception is when I write nonfiction. That's a whole different thought process than making things up in my mind like fiction. But even when outlining, you can have brain fart moments like when you were in school and you knew the material you were being tested on, but when the test is in front of you ... you can't remember how to spell your name. That's why I like writing things down.

Writing after a stroke is a whole 'nother adventure. My cognitive impairments need a swift kick in the pants from time to time and is a brain fart factory in high production mode. I have lists within lists. I'll jot down titles as they occur to me and a couple of details so when I have time to write the event, I can recall it...maybe. Even then, it is a challenge of finding the words to type now that I've semi-sort-of figured out how to type one handed.

That's where item number two comes in handy...a tape recorder. Mine is small and voice activated. If you are going through a patch of life one handed, automatic is best. But even before my stroke, I used it. How many times have I been driving someplace like the grocery store and not even thinking about my book, and then BOOM! the answer to my problem hits me. If you're like me it happens all the time. The point is I didn't rely on my previous photographic or phonographic memory to recall the information later. I say previous because that's another area of brain cells lost with my stroke.

That brings us to the last item...the note pad and pen. This is the down and dirty, low tech method. How many of you visualize or hear dialogue of your books in your dreams? It will either wake you up with it or be gone after the first fifteen minutes upon waking in the morning. We've all been there. Things are so vivid in your dreams. It is the perfect scene or dialogue bit you need in your story.

Just like my dream about Abby I wrote about HERE. Your subconscious mind holds all the answers and doesn't stop working ever. On the occasions when this happens, I always had a notebook and pen beside my bed at all times. I'd write it down in the middle of the night or when I awoke. Now, not so much because I can barely read my own handwriting, but my tape recorder has take its place.

Can you eliminate all the "doh!" moments in your life this way? No, but it's a start.

What tips do you use to recall idea when writing 
do you use?
Keep writing and loving the Lord.

5 comments:

Jeremy [Retro-Z] said...

i always keep paper near, write down something as fast as it rolls into my head, it is gone. i would call it a brain fart, i used to be able to give it a quick one word description. this served as a reminder as i get older, it is gone... and i cannot remember that word. lately to help i would use to words that have nothing to do with anything, but in my head. the cell phone has a notes page, i fill it with my crazy thoughts and like this many... run-on incoherent thoughts.

nice share today lassy!

J.L. Murphey said...

Thank you laddy! I got you beat in the age department, but but since the stroke I have a bad case of Crass (Can't remember stupid stuff). I would write things down, but then I'd spend an inordinate amount of time trying to read my writing, but I do have notebooks full from previous books.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sometimes I'll write it down, but if I can't, I'll just repeat it over and over in my head until I can commit it to paper or screen. I usually remember and what I don't, I figure the new version is probably better.

S.P. Bowers said...

Sleep. Sleep can help. If I've got enough rest then I'm much better at remembering things. Unlike this morning where I had over an hour of uninterupted writing time but, in one big brain shutdown, I took a nap instead.

J.L. Murphey said...

Alex- sometimes it's better.
Sara- sleep wins out. A tired brain doesn't function well.