write on wednesday – the mysterious zone

What’s your experience of being in “the writing zone?” Becca asked in

Write On Wednesday.

I have a picture of my brain as a colorful space designed my M.C. Escher.  There are different compartments in this space for different types of storage.  There are little drawers that have round ivory knobs used to pull the drawer open. There are shallow, open trays, lined with paisley in blues and greens. There are vertical areas with gold hooks.  Some areas are dusty because I don’t go there often.  Secret areas with little, verdigris crusted locks on the hasp, can only be reached by lifting the floor of another area and walking down steps that go up the other side and end up in a different place.

When I am not concentrating on something else, I am writing in my head.  What is that called?  Daydreaming, living in a fantasy world, escapism?  None of those indicate a physical accomplishment, nothing is acquired, nothing is implemented.  This is not a respectable thing to be doing, in accordance to the rules of my hard working, German upbringing.  I have overcome the guilt of that, however.  Writing in my head is as important as sitting at a table and physically writing. If I didn’t take any of that purely mental zone work and do something with it, I would be living in my daydreams.  That is not the case.  This daydreaming is the fodder for my writing.  I can remember what I write in my head, or at least the gist of it, when I am in a physical writing spot.  I can remember the conversations I have overheard between my characters.  I remember the scenes, the emotions, the smells, the sounds.

My writing zone has different levels, and exists in those various compartments in my brain, depending on what I am writing.  When I am in that area with open trays, I am in a very conscious writing zone, where I am planning and using some kind of background information or research.  Even when I am there, writing, my subconscious lifts a corner of the tray and unlocks the secret area hidden underneath.  My subconscious takes stuff from that hidden, velvet lined space, and adds it to what I am working on.  So even when I am consciously not in a deeper zone, my subconscious is.  This is very mysterious to me, and I don’t question it or try to control it.

When I work out of one of those drawers with the little ivory knobs I have to pull open, I am truly in what most people would call “the zone.” The zone that is “an elevated mental state of performance.”  I can be anywhere and write then, without being distracted.  It is a conscious level somewhere between those secret places down the hidden steps, and the wide-open flat places that are totally in view.  So I can walk the dog and be in that zone, writing in my mind.  I can be at the coffee shop with music, talking, laughing, the coffee roaster clacking in the background, and I don’t hear a thing outside of my thought process.

All of the levels of the zone are fun places to be.  I think that is the bottom line for me: I love to write, so all parts of the process and all levels of focus, drawing from conscious and subconscious, are good.

Terra in the Zone
Terra in the Zone

Who knows what Terra thinks about in her zone.  Bunnies?  Squirrels?  Cookies?

11 thoughts on “write on wednesday – the mysterious zone

  1. “When I am not concentrating on something else, I am writing in my head.” It makes me feel so much better to know I’m not the only one that writes in my head! Sometimes it scares me that so much is going on inside my head – I can’t help but wonder if this is what it feels like before you go crazy.

    Great post!


  2. Bobbi, who is to say we are not crazy??….. I think it is nice to be crazy. Maybe crazy people are the most honestly creative, because they are not afraid to let the world know what they think.


  3. I love the way you’ve described all the compartments of your writing mind…and I’m envious of your ability to “go there” wherever you might be physically.

    Great photo of Terra 🙂


  4. I’m a “head writer” too — unfortunately, more gets in my head than on the page, but in a weird sort of way, it’s still working the words, the situation…

    I adore the MC Escher and the idea of different levels. I never thought of that but boy, does it ever resonate. Shallow, open trays likned with paisley — that’s really lovely on a lot of different “levels!” One of the things I like about Escher is that in some ways, at a quick look, he appears totally chaotic — things are either going around in circles or not where they are “supposed to.” Yet, there is such precision and organization. Such expansion. So many ways to travel to the same destination at times, and at other times, one way and one only. Space gets distorted. That’s a wonderful way to connect to writing.

    Thanks for popping by the Gypsy! Kindred spirits on the dish issue indeed! I know exactly what you mean about moving — it’s daunting!


  5. Ah, you furthered the analogy of Escher perfectly, Jeanie. And you are right, even if what you “think write” doesn’t get down on paper, I believe it is good practice.
    As far as moving – I have china still unpacked in boxes in the basement. That tells me there is simply too much stuff that needs a new home. Next move is going to be infinitely easier, I swear!


  6. Great description of the way you create, in your head and when you are physically writing. I certainly write many of my better blog posts in my head before they ever come out of my fingers on the keyboard. For me a ‘zone’ is when I have that almost out of body feeling where the words and ideas and everything just flow. That often only happens when I’ve done some writing in my head before hand.


  7. Love the word “hasp” that you use…the Escher brain image with stairs going down, then up, in different places …and of course love seeing Terra in the Zone! Ah, no, squirrels and bunnies are far too mundane … it’s the cookies!


  8. Carl, don’t you just love that out of body feeling? Like living in an alternate world.

    You are right, Oh. It is definitely the cookies or some other goody she is in zen mode about. It definitely isn’t the pit bull dragging a HUGE chain that chased us down the street early this morning. We both needed a cookie when we got home just to recuperate from the trauma.


  9. I just love that you imagine your brain as an Escher painting! You could hide so much in one of those! Terra looks as though her brain is quite disiplined and focused.


  10. She is disciplined and focused all right… about all of the wrong things! Trying to bite the mailman, catching birds in the back yard, where the next cookie is coming from….


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