I have two places conducive to thinking, and they are as different as can be. First, I think in the car, preferably on a long trip and preferably alone. The automatic process of driving seems to calm my conscious mind and let the deeper thoughts arrange themselves into viable plots and possible characters. I particularly like the drive across Michigan's Upper Peninsula, which is both beautiful and remote, allowing lots of time to work out plot knots. I carry a small recorder and talk to myself, which my kids think is insane. Still, there's a lot I forget once the world reasserts itself, and the recorder helps me keep straight what I untangled.

For shorter jaunts, it's a walk in the woods. When I'm so confused or frustrated by the characters I've created that I can't stand them for a while, I walk. As the distance from the house increases, the calm sets in, and when that happens, the problems solves itself. Once I let go of MAKING it work out, the problem goes away at least nine times out of ten.

I can't speak for others, but these are my best chances for optimal creativity. What they have in common is that I'm alone, I'm away from things that distract me (like the telephone or even the cats), and, possibly most important, I'm NOT WRITING. The two processes are the same and yet different, at least for me. I must think it before I can write it, and only then can I write down what I think.

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Comment by Peg Herring on July 16, 2008 at 9:33pm
How could I forget doing dishes? That's a mindless activity, and everyone goes away so they don't have to help: peaceful time to think about who's the next to die ... on paper, of course.
Comment by Josephine Damian on July 16, 2008 at 4:09pm
Any mindless activity away from the keyboard - that all important post-writing digestion where you step back from the work so that you can see it more clearly - from house/yardwork, showering, go for a walk - but I don't need to leave the house to find quiet time since I live alone.
Comment by Clair Dickson on July 16, 2008 at 1:25pm
Yea Michigan! Though, goodness, the UP is certainly vacant. A little too remote for me.

I do a lot of thinking in the car, but mainly when I'm zipping back and forth across the county to and from work. It's a twenty-minute e-way jaunt, pretty low-key driving. I also think when I bake and clean up. Oh, and when I'm laying in bed TRYING to go to SLEEP because it's already 2am and I have to get up in a few hours (shut up brain!) =)

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