I used to zone out all the time. Then my life got busier.
A full-time job, a girlfriend, a post-grad scatter plot of friends and family members across the Great Northeast, Breaking Bad.
Now I feel like I have barely enough free time to write, much less to lie around letting my mind wander from idea to idea.
Luckily, a blog post by Tobias Buckell about how he writes novels recently reminded me just how important zoning out is:
First off, I spend time lying upside down on the couch with a pillow over my head. This is called “plotting,” although I understand that *sometimes* it can look like I’m actually napping.
It’s important for writers to put words on the page. The standard “thousand words a day” goal is great. It’s the only way to find your voice and develop a natural, easy, powerful style.
But, meanwhile, what are those words building toward?
In the race to meet our productivity goals, we sometimes forget what it is that we’re doing.*
This is partly because the term “writer” is misleading. A writer must put down words on the page, sure. But that’s only half of it. Dreaming, thinking, planning, scheming–coming up with meaning, with story, with the world behind the words–that’s the other half.
So the next time you see something like this
just remember: there might be a writer under there, hard at work.
*Note: Ray Bradbury, for one, would disagree with this point. His process involved channeling the unconscious and suppressing the conscious through sheer speed of production. That said, I have a sneaking suspicion that Ray himself spent time when he wasn’t physically writing thinking about his writing, which is the dreaming I’m talking about.