Writing with a Goat, on a Boat


I do not write in a box. I do not write with a fox.

Would you, could you on a plane? Would you, could you on a train?

That pestering little Sam I Am got me thinking about where I write. And the answer is: I write on a plane, on a train, in a box with a fox. I will write here and there. I will write everywhere. Metaphorically speaking. Because writing happens not just when I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. It happens when I don’t expect to be assaulted by ideas or my protagonist’s voice, during sleep or those meditative, repetitive activities—steamy showers, driving, exercising, eating green eggs and ham… All of that staring out of the window processing is writing time, too.

This processing is when plot threads and characters simmer in a chunky word stew and float to the surface when they’re properly cooked. It’s essential, though I find I have to remember not to badger myself sometimes about not making the word count that day.

Point is, writing is as much about stringing sentences together as it is digesting our reflections on character, human struggle, LIFE. In order to do this well we need TIME. Time to let our minds wander, even if it’s on a boat with a goat. Because smelling that goat, feeding it, listening to it bleat as the boat rocks over storm-tossed waves gives us kernels of inspiration that lead us to AMAZING ideas and beautiful books.

So yes, I write everywhere and nowhere specific. (Though I’m always on the look out for some place cozy and atmospheric with good coffee or wine). As for that processing time, I want Observation Deck A, then a nice long shower to let those ideas stew.


How do you process all of the lovely story gobbly-gook that becomes your novel?



Author: Heather Webb

Heather Webb is the author of BECOMING JOSEPHINE, her debut historical (Plume/Penguin 2014). A freelance editor and blogger, she spends oodles of time helping writers hone their skills—something she adores. You may find her Twittering @msheatherwebb, hosting contests, or hanging around RomanceUniversity.org as a contributor to the Editor's Posts. She is also the Twitter mistress for the popular Writer Unboxed. She loves making new reader and writer friends. Stop on by her website, Between the Sheets!

12 Replies to “Writing with a Goat, on a Boat”

  1. I usually have to step away to give a story space while I’m processing the big-picture stuff. It’s hard, though, when you’re on a deadline! But I do think some breathing room is essential.

  2. It is hard, Susan, especially when you can’t say to yourself “okay, not I’m going to process this and come up with a brilliant idea on the spot.” My best seem to come to me when I least expect it.

  3. I couldn’t agree more with you. When I get really stuck in my writing, I find the best thing I can do is step away from my desk and just live my life. Take the dogs for a walk (I get the BEST ideas as I scoop their poop!) go for a ride in the car with the windows down, sit in a cafe people-watching…all that good stuff. Writing can’t happen in a vacuum.

    And yes, showers are a great way to let those ideas stew. Brushing my teeth seems to do the trick as well. What is it with personal hygiene and writing (and…thank god for that)?

    1. Natalia, I’m trying to imagine those ideas flowing in while scooping poop. Lol! And thank goodness that writing happens while we’re practicing personal hygiene or many of us would never leave our desks to get clean.

  4. Agree that staring at walls is a vital part of the process. Some days “writing” has very little to do with the words we get down on paper. My favorite time to ponder and reflect is when I’m walking my dog or out on our sailboat. Nothing like the wind in your hair and the sun on your face to stir up some good ideas.

    1. Valerie, “writing” while sailing sounds divine! I’ve never been on a sailboat (though I’ve been on many many others), and would love to feel that peace on open water. What a beautiful place to capture ideas!

    1. So you aren’t into cruises, Lori? After the Carnival that lost power and everyone floated adrift amid their overflowing excrement, I’m in no hurry to take one either! But 10,000 words! That’s a feat in such a short time. 🙂

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