The Benefit of Busywork In Writing


We all of have aspects of our lives that are less than glamorous; the daily chores, and trivialities that must be completed in order to ensure that our daily existences run as smoothly as possible. These can often become annoyances though, when they feel burdensome, or interrupt important creative work. Still, I’ve come to think of busywork as an important aspect of my creative writing process, and here are three reasons why:

#1. Creative Inspiration:
There is nothing that fires up the imagination more than a wandering mind. Still, there are some tasks that are more conducive to brain meanderings than others. (I hardly think my students would appreciate it if I used their lesson time to brainstorm ideas for my next novel.) Instead, I try to use the banal chores that seem to fill an unfortunately large portion of my days, such as my commute, dish washing, laundry, or even gardening as a chance to find some inspiration. For instance, once during a particularly onerous day of weeding I found myself absolutely mesmerized by the lace-like intricacy of the root system. This became the inspiration fro the system of magic I created in my Elden Forest series!

#2. Problem Solving:
In order to solve some of the thornier problems that arise in my writing, I often need a concerted period of time in which to really work through those story knots, and untangle all my disparate thoughts on the subject. I have found that busywork is an excellent time to work through some of these story issues. I must confess that at first, my mind would wander all over the place, purposefully avoiding the problem I was trying to tackle, but I’ve learned how to gently nudge my attention back to the matter at hand, without giving myself a hard time about the slip. Being able to work through my problems means having to think about the problem in a new way, and I find the addition of busywork to be an excellent source of new ideas.

#3. Taking A Breather:
Sometimes when I’m writing I start to feel a now familiar sensation of tightening in my forehead; accompanied by a fierce (and rather unreasonable) irritation, and then I start to feel too warm. That is my physiological response to frustration, and I have learned to get up and  physically remove myself from the source of that frustration. Taking myself away from the situation, means that I do not allow my frustration to eat up both my time and energy. Instead, I move my attention on to a chore that needs to be completed. This gives me space away from the actual frustration of writing, and back into a calmer, more productive mindset of brainstorming. Then, when I am done the chore, I have the added benefit of having finished up a trivial task, which re-setting my brain for more writing goodness!

Do you find busywork benefits your writing? Tell me how in the comments below!

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