Entry 2/20/17 – Escape…Good
HT to the Lincoln Escape Room, a place I’ve been to twice and enjoyed myself thoroughly each time. Check them out at lincolnescaperoom.com.
Over the past few months everyone has heard varations on the theme “I want to bury my head in the sand”. This isn’t a political thing. I live in Nebraska and this winter we’ve received almost no snow and we wore shorts in February this week. Of course, it’s climate change, mankind’s greatest challenge that will eventually be the source of unimaginable misery and suffering but hey…70 degrees in February!
It’s easy to want to bury your head in the sand, is my point.
Of course, this is why many people read and read fiction in particular. It’s an escape, it takes up space in your brain that might otherwise be filled with some impending crisis, worry, fear or anxiety. I think that might be why anxious people read. You can worry about fictional characters with little or no consequence.
I’ve found this extends to writing, or at least the kind of writing I do, which was a surprise to say the least. As I’ve talked about before, I’m a discovery writer, a process which my fellow Nebraska writer Liz Boyle says is like “letting the characters take you for a ride”. I like that description because I’ve found it to be true. In the short amount of time I’ve carved out for myself to write each week I can count on coming out of that time in a pretty good mood, just like I do when I’m reading something particularly compelling. Not that my stuff is particularly compelling, but I’m surprised and sometimes thrilled at where a story is going and that functions as escapism.
This has two practical effects.
- It makes “working” on the writing part of my job pretty close to play time and
- It’s lent me a better understanding of why so many people take up writing.
The last few months have shown me there are a lot of writers out there – secret writers, aspiring writers, people who dream of having a bookshelf full of their work if not something more. I understood the appeal (obviously). The solitude is nice, the control is unlike anything else, the results concrete. But now I think there’s a bit more to it. Writing is an escape as much, if not more than reading is.
It makes sense. The characters you create occupy that same space in your brain as the characters you read about. Your sense of imagination and plotting kick in whether you’re reading or writing. The mechanism is the same, just slowed down in the case of writing.
The point is this – if you want to write, try to take into the process that same joy you find in reading. I think this applies for fiction and nonfiction (although as a former reporter, nonfiction takes a lot more work in my experience). The more you can enjoy what you’re writing as you’re writing it the more likely you are to come back and the more likely your brain is to have fun with it.
Let me know how that works for you.