Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Writing Tips Tuesday: Present and Engaged

Welcome back for another edition of Writing Tip Tuesdays! If you missed last week, we were joined by the indelible Jeff Hargett who shared some profound writing and life advice. I highly recommend you check it out.

You may have noticed that I used the word “indelible” when describing Jeff. But it was only after I typed it that I realized I wasn't sure exactly what that word meant. Thankfully, indelible is defined as “not able to be forgotten or removed” as in “Jeff’s post made an indelible impression on me", which is true. Not two days after Jeff originally sent me his post, a conversation with my wife really brought Jeff’s message home.

I don’t know about you, but when I write (and when I read) I get a little distracted. Over the years my always supportive wife has gotten used to me being…kinda out of it when I’m really mulling over a story. And by “out of it” I mean eyebrow deep in the story I’m creating. It’s difficult for me to pull away. My head is in the clouds. I’m in another world. I stagger around with a far off look in my eyes. I abruptly end conversations so that I can go jot down ideas. You know, typical crazy writer stuff.

Which was all well and good when it was just the two of us.

I mean the three of us (sorry Pippin).

But now that we've added another to the Gaylord family, it’s no longer acceptable to have half my mind on another planet. As my wife (who is no slouch when it comes to wordsmithing) helped me realize, when raising an infant you have to be “present and engaged”. It wouldn't be fair to Amelia, or to me, to miss out on her everyday little moments because I wasn't really paying full attention.

How could you not give your full attention to that smile?

As DS9’s Ben Sisko pointed out last week:

"It's life, Jake! You could miss it if you don't open your eyes."

So what’s a writer to do? I need to immerse myself in other worlds in order to write them but I can’t live there. Where's the balance?

Scotty, beam me up.

Halloween a couple years back.

That’s right, I’m working on my transporter skills. Or another way to think of it is that I’m trying to install an On/Off switch. I’m here on this planet, present and engaged (the switch is Off) until I get some time to write. At that point I flip the On switch, hit the teleported pad, and dive head first into my world.

It’s not easy but at this point in my life, I need clean breaks. I’m still working on figuring this out but here’s what’s been working for me so far:

1.      Have a defined time to write. In the past I’ve jumped in and out of writing throughout the day but now I find that I need to say, “Ok, the next hour is writing, then I’m done.”
2.      At the start of that writing time, I get hyped. Some music, a little jumping around, whatever it takes to make that time an event. This is writing time. This is my time to live on another planet. It’s go time.

3.      At the end of writing time I shut it down. I close my documents with purpose. I shut down my computer. I take a moment to crank down that leakyfaucet.

In summary, a little ceremony on either side of writing time helps me resurface so that I can be present and engaged. What about you? Is this something you struggle with? How do you cope?


Margo also has an adorable daughter.
Please check back next week when we will be joined by one of the best all-around writing bloggers on the web, Margo Berendsen!

Also, if you want to get involved with Writing Tip Tuesdays, please shoot me an email at adamgaylordwrites gmail com.

We have great tips from a bunch more great writers coming up so stay tuned!


  1. That's definitely a good idea to have a set time to right. Luckily for me I don't have that many responsibilities, so I can go in to writer land whenever I want :)

    1. Take advantage of that time! It won't always be that easy!

  2. It's really hard to discipline yourself to be in "writing mode" or out. I find myself staring into space quite a bit while creating a scene in my mind. Sounds like it's working for you, Gaylord. Keep up the good work. You don't want to miss any of those baby years. They are gone before you know it.

  3. I love that, "I close my documents with purpose." Here I am trying to do just that. You have a wonderful family! Amelia is sooooo cute! :)

  4. Get ready, "Dad"--Amelia's already mastering the smiting smile that will serve her so well in the coming years. ;-)

    I'm rooting for you regarding the discipline endeavor. Maintaining such a regimen requires great diligence, but I have this inkling that you can find a way to beat even the Kobayashi Maru scenario once you've put your mind to it.

  5. I loved the DS9 and Star Trek references. And Donkey Kong! I never thought about having a little ritual before writing to get in the groove, but that's a great idea. "best all around bloggers" oh my goodness I'm blushing!


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