Deb Erika Finds the Shortest Trips Can Take the Longest

Maine landscape
This week’s theme could not come at a better time, as it finds me having gotten away with my family to my home state of Maine!

My debut novel LITTLE GALE GUMBO is set on a fictitious island off the coast of this beautiful state and now I’m nearing publication of my second novel, THE MERMAID COLLECTOR, which is also set in Maine—this time, in a coastal town called Cradle Harbor.

So what does it mean to me to get away? Well, most days I don’t have the luxury of travelling to such a diverting landscape. For me, getting away often means getting away from my computer screen. And sometimes, that departure is a nearly impossible one.

Writing is a consuming endeavor, we all know that. And sometimes when it is going poorly, the best thing we can do is to get away from the work—even for just an hour or two—but that journey isn’t always welcome, and I suspect I’m not alone in this. If I’ve hit a wall, I find myself more determined than ever to try and push through it. And that wall is hard. And made of cement. And I might as well be pushing with a feather.

But still, I. Can. Not. Walk. Away.

What’s amazing is that when I do (Eventually, of course, I have to stop) and whatever problem I’m having (plot, character, dialog) is allowed to simmer, invariably I reach a solution. It is amazing what a short walk, a drive, even doing the dishes can do to stir the pot of ideas and untangle the knot.

So why do I resist getting away when I know it is most always the ONLY way to make progress?

I look to you all for insight (or at least, a bit of commiseration).

Friends, do you get away from your work with ease when you know you’ve hit a wall? Or does someone have to pry you away?

4 Replies to “Deb Erika Finds the Shortest Trips Can Take the Longest”

  1. I know what you mean, Erika–it’s so hard to pull away from that screen, and yet soooo essential. I think writers must be masochists.

    Usually, when I get to that point (you know the one–the point at which you’re on the verge of throwing the computer across the room), my common sense will kick in (or my tears will make it impossible to see the screen) and I’ll go do something else for a while. Bad TV seems to help. *grin*

  2. Oh yes, I’m totally with you, Erika. You know you need to step away, but for some reason, beating your head on the keyboard seems like it will work to dislodge whatever is stuck. Brain holidays (even if it’s just to walk the dog or go out for dinner with a friend) are SO necessary.
    Hope you’re enjoying your holiday – you so deserve it.

  3. Oh Erika, Maine one of my favourite places it is so tranquil and beautiful. It has been many years since we have been, but it remains one of the most memorable holidays we have taken.

    I do believe everyone at one time or another whether it is writing books or doing work that is so neccessary but so tedious that you eventually have to get up and do something else (and yes Linda I agree with you Bad T.V. like Judge Joe Brown or Judge Judy) will really get you back to thinking real quick. I remember my Bubby (by the way whose name was Dora sound familiar ladies) used to watch both of those shows and than spend the rest of the time telling us about the crazy people who are on the show and what mishigus’s (means stories) they have.

    Most of us will not step away but keep plugging until frustration takes over and then the light goes on in the head and it says step away, go do something else etc.

    Have a good week, can’t wait to read the next book.

  4. I think I do both! Some days, I bang my head on the keys until the words come out – good, bad, or otherwise. Other days, a fish swimming by in the aquarium has me up and out of the seat.

    I’m exactly like you, though – the only good answers end up coming after I’ve stepped away and done something totally different from writing. I think that’s one reason I raise seahorses – they’re attention-grabbing little dudes who need a lot of care, and working in the tank frees my mind for writing!

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