Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author talks about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.
This week’s brilliant, charming, remarkable author is Rachel Bertsche who penned MWF Seeking BFF, a hilarious memoir that tells the story of Rachel’s search for a new best friend and shares a good bit of wisdom about friendship. If you’ve visited this blog before, you know I like funny. MWF Seeking BFF is right up my alley. Check out what Rachel has to say about her writerhead.
But remember, sssshhhhh! You do not want Rachel wagging her “hold on a minute” finger at you, do you?
1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).
Frustratingly, I often feel writerhead when I’m not computer-accessible. In the shower, in the car, on the treadmill. It’s those times when my mind is free to wander that sentences coming flooding into my brain. So I try to hold onto bits of description, arrangements of words, pieces of dialogue, just long enough to get them down. That happens to various degrees of success.
On days when I can get into writerhead while I’m actually at the computer, it’s usually in the afternoon. When I’ve done EVERYTHING I CAN POSSIBLE THINK OF to procrastinate my work. Usually around 3 pm, when I feel like everything else is out of my brain and there’s nothing I want to do but sit and write. I’m a night person, so I’m perfectly happy to let this last forever, but I feel like I usually hit a wall after 90 minutes and need to at least go for a quick walk around the block or stand up from the computer. But from, say, 3-4:30 the words come pouring out. There is no music playing. I’m at my desk and no one is in the house. I am very easily distracted. But there is always, always, Diet Coke.
2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)
I ignore it if at all possible. Emails and phone calls don’t get answered. Husbands (well, just the one) calling from the other room get “Hold ON!” Writerhead is so hard to find and so easy to lose. That’s why if I feel an idea coming on, if I feel that state creeping in, and run for the word document. I’ve been known to stop on the sidewalk, take out my iPhone, and jot down the words of a scene on the “notes” program. If someone interrupts, they often get a “hold on a minute” pointer finger. Which I know is rude. I do. But when you’re in the zone, you gotta do what you can to stay there!
3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.
For me, writerhead is like watching a movie. I’m not thinking about what I’m writing, particularly, but instead almost watching it play like a film in my head. I remember working in this state during one scene of MWF Seeking BFF. I had finished a chapter, and in rereading it, I realized I needed to fill out some of the sections. My husband had a friend over, and a memory dawned on me. It hit me that this is exactly what I needed to communicate in the chapter. I stood up from the couch where we were all watching TV and walked away without saying anything. For the next hour (maybe even 45 minutes) I just wrote—sitting in our second bedroom/office, door closed, no music—and I probably put 1000 words on the page, when sometimes it takes me three days to write that much. It came flooding out as I relived this memory and watched the book scene play out in the screening room of my mind. I stopped, only, because I had dinner plans. But I had such a feeling of satisfaction as I headed to dinner that night. I knew I’d gotten what I wanted on the page, and as my “readers” read the chapter, that was the scene each pointed out, because they too could really SEE it.
BIO: Rachel Bertsche is a journalist in Chicago, where she lives with her husband. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire, More, Teen Vogue, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Fitness, Women’s Health, CNN.com, and more. Before leaving New York (and all her friends) for the Midwest, Bertsche was an editor at O: The Oprah Magazine.