Cali Yost retreated to her writing cave to crank out the first draft of her next book. She described it this way in her post, “Why I Disconnected to Draft My Book.”
“Since late November, regular readers of this blog, my blogs on Fast Company and Forbes.com and my followers on Twitter may have noticed that I essentially disappeared. I’d pop up now and then on Twitter from “my book writing cave.” But for the most part, over the last two months, chose to focus my undivided attention on finishing the first draft of my new book. Why? For the following three reasons that will continue to inform how I approach serious, deep-thinking work in the future:”
She defines her three reasons as
- A constantly distracted brain can’t think deeply
- Creativity requires making mistakes and learning from them
- I am an extrovert, so to disconnect after connecting is hard for me.
These are three excellent reasons to disconnect. The first two are valid for all humans. Work that requires deep thinking also requires time and space to play with your thoughts to see what develops. Because she’s an extrovert, Cali needed to disconnect for a bit to allow that creative magic to happen.
Writing is a solitary activity. Whether you are introvert or extrovert, professional writer or someone for whom writing is a sideline, you need to close the door and have privacy to write. Different people do this in different ways.
An author friend of mine books passage on a freighter when it’s time to write. There’s no one he knows on board and minimal distractions. His passage includes food. He’s gone for a month at a time. Cali didn’t do that. She ran her business and met her family obligations. She simply disconnected from most social media.
I declare my mornings to be “Sacred Writing Time” and I strive to schedule nothing but writing work then. I also need to leave space in my day for my mind to roam. I play selected music on my iPod and do something that doesn’t require much attention, like cleaning house or walking the dog. And I keep my small digital voice recorder handy to capture ideas.
Many people who want to write a book want to “get away” to write the book. Most of us can’t do that. Most of us will do most of the process while we’re in the midst of the rest of our lives. But there are two times when “getting away” will work well for most of us.
Get away to sharpen your concept.
In the early stages of the book writing process, most authors need to sharpen the concept of their book. You need to answer questions like the following.
- Who will buy and read this book?
- Why? What will they get out of it?
- How will it be different from other, similar, books?
- What do I need to find out more about?
A couple of days, unconnected from the rest of life should give you enough time to answer those questions. Then, it’s back to the world.
Get away to finish the book.
Sometimes you need to put your behind in a chair and write until you simply can’t do any more or until you fall asleep at the keyboard. If you’ve done all the other thinking and playing with ideas, get away and finish the book. I’ve done that in hotel rooms, in a cabin on the Russian River, and in the small trailer in Aspen where a friend lived as a ski bum for a few years.
For real creative work, you need time and mental space.