WFMAD Day 10 – Mindfulness Part 1

I love reading about neuroscience.

I know. It’s not the thing that you admit often in public. But the truth is that I read more non-fiction than fiction, and one of my favorite things to read about are books that explore the human brain.

This is all connected to writing, of course.

I am fascinated by how Brain contains memory and imagination and emotion and the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time. I doubt that our science is even close to understanding the Great Gray Matter yet and I am looking forward to the next fifty years of bunkings and debunkings of new theories.

What does this have to do with WFMAD? Not a lot, except that the Eagles are playing the Jaguars on Friday night. This means it’s time for us to get our cable hooked up again.

We have cable TV for two reasons: NFL football and college basketball. We turn off the cable from the end of March Madness to the beginning of NFL pre-season in mid-August. Why? We find it gives time for the things that we really care about; reading, family time, running, camping, and working in the garden. We have many avenues to get news information. If there is a show or documentary that we are interested in, we can always watch it on Hulu or some other such thing. What we avoid is that time suck that happens when you turn on the TV ( you know, just to see what’s on) and two hours later you find yourself drooling in the corner of the couch, surrounded by potato chip crumbs, your thumb compulsively clicking channels.

We have one television in our house and it is down in the basement, so that when TV season is upon us, it takes effort and mindfulness to go all the way down there and turn the darn thing on. This also removes the mind-numbing habit that many people have of leaving the television on for background noise. During football and basketball season we make a habit of watching the games we are excited about. We also try to remain mindful about not fall into the trap of turning it on just because it is there.

Should you kick your TV to the curb? I don’t know… should you? People are often shocked when they find out that I’ve written eight novels, three picture books, a young readers series and spent way more than a thousand days traveling in the past twelve years. I think a lot of that was accomplished because I don’t spend much time watching TV. On the other hand, I know some people work well with a TV muttering in the corner. I guess the trick is to be clear about which of your habits support your artistic dream and which ones interfere with it.



“Making, unmaking, remaking, and transforming herself; that is the job of a writer.” Joyce Carol Oates.

Set… turn off the TV, phone, and the other devices that get in the way of your creativity.

Today’s prompt: you get a choice today.

1) If you have a Work In Progress, interview one of the secondary characters about the main character. Be open to allowing the secondary character to go off on a rant and tell you things you didn’t know before.

2) If you don’t have a WIP, write a scene about a kid trying to learn how to ride a bicycle. Alone. You can choose to write from the perspective of the kid, or an adult who is watching the scene.


14 Replies to “WFMAD Day 10 – Mindfulness Part 1”

  1. I used to be really proud I didn’t have a TV habit I needed to kick until I realized my internet-surfing was the same thing. Sure, I’m reading writing blogs and studying craft – sort of – but it’s still Not Writing.

  2. love the prompt of interviewing a secondary character about my main character. think i will find out some very interesting things about Kate. I am joing WFMAD late but better late than never.

  3. Thank you, thank you!!!!
    After the week I’ve had with family stress, I laughed and laughed this morning while interviewing a six-year-old. She had plenty to say about her fiancer and boy, did I learn a lot about my main character.
    Like Jane Yolen, I work on multiple stories at the same time for different ages. In the morning–after I pour myself a cup of coffee–I open up a number of documents and bounce back and forth until one speaks to me. (Unless I have a particular deadline to finish a revision, in which case, I have a set schedule for revising a number of pages per day with a block of time to finish–say, one month.) I put a smiley face on each day of the calendar to mark that my daily goal was met.)

    Happy writing to all!!

    Next week will be interesting as I will be in North Carolina with most of my family. I have given them notice that I need to be alone for thirty minutes each morning.
    I am committed to staying on schedule with my Fifteen Minutes with Laurie!!

  4. Laurie, this is one of those days where you frighten me. I get this unnerving feeling that you’ve been lurking in the shadows of my brain, eavesdropping on my thoughts, browsing through my think-space, picking your way through my memories. Maybe I’m real, after all. Hoo-boy.

    I find myself describing my physical responses to your prompts in various terms of GI distress…does your research into neuroscience explain that? Just wondering…

    Off to some writing discomfort. (Did I want to know this about myself?)

    Cheers to you!

  5. So true about the opiate of the masses. I’ve never owned a TV and have only been online for five years. That’s the only way I was able to write my first two books while I was still a teacher. Back then, I’d offer extra credit during National TV Turnoff Week to students who were willing to try it. They were always surprised by how much extra time they suddenly had for productive things. Turning off TV = Turning on Life 🙂

    (Cross-posted from LiveJournal because TV is evil)

  6. Thanks for the tip but the TV is a part of my brain and although it is in the basement I watch at least an hour a day. As for the prompt, I would do that but I did it yesterday. Less on purpose more as a coincidence. No rant happened but I did get to see I side of him I hadn’t before.

  7. Oh this is perfect for today. Yesterday’s prompt was perfect as well (although I didn’t comment. I read it in the morning and when I finished writing all the computers were off for the night.) So this morning I am commenting prior to writing.
    I totally agree with the time suck of TV! I hate all the repetitive news!

  8. Thank you for all the excellent tips! I’m on holiday at the moment in Crete and at first was slightly panicked at the thought of writing my fifteen minutes without your trusted promtps. For a few days before I found the internet room I managed to scramble together words that may or not be chicken poo…and when I found the room I got a little over excited and logged onto your site and hastily jotted down the prompts to aid me in later days of the holiday. Unfortunately, after writing about what it feels like not being able to write, I didn’t set it on fire because I didn’t think the people in the hotel would let me stay til the end of the week if the whole place went up in flames – plus, I can’t speak Greek. It would have been pretty tricky to explain.

    Thanks again!

  9. I watch TV sometimes, but I leave it on a lot at night for a comfort. It’s relaxing sometimes to hear the voices coming from it, and it also adds some light to a dark house. I usually mute it when I write so I can truly focus. It makes me feel safer if it’s on, I guess.

    I’ve done my fifteen for today, but I wrote on something other than the prompt. I think I may go back with one of my characters and do the interview thing. It will help me get into his very complicated brain. Thanks for the advice, and good luck today everyone!

  10. I have many distractions from my writing (Facebook is the current repeat offender), but TV is a big one for me. My television rarely gets turned on before 8 pm (unless there’s a baseball game – I’m the opposite of you, Laurie. I could do without cable from November through March but must have ESPN during baseball season). I may do a little aimless channel clicking at the very end of my evening, but generally my TV viewing is very specific – I watch what I’ve recorded on my DVR. I save 15 minutes of my life per hour that way!

    On another topic – Laurie if you like reading about the various ways the mind works, check out, CRASHING THROUGH ( – a story of an amazing blind guy who has the opportunity to have his sight restored late in life. The book delves into how our brain processes the images we see and how memory and learned interpretation plays such a big. It was really fascinating.

    Happy writing all!

  11. I interviewed Mama about her son Charlie. She loves him and wants him to grow into a good man. His success matters more to her because he is male, her only son. Her two daughters are loved, but they are daughters after all. Old country values put boys over girls.

    It was interesting exercise. Now I should interview Bea and Sophie and see what they have to say about their little brother.

    thanks for the idea of the interview

  12. I got rid of my cable about a month ago. I do not miss it whatsoever! I definitely find that TV gets in the way of writing (and reading!). I’ve usually made the choice of reading books over watching TV. My friends and family would be amazed that I read 200+ books a year and I’d say “Well, yeah, but I don’t watch much TV!” I’ve let the TV in too much this summer (even without cable… TV on DVD is one of my favorite things) because I’ve been so busy at work that all I want to do when I go home is veg on the couch. But school starts back tomorrow (woohoo!), so I’m getting myself back on the ball. 🙂

  13. I gave up cable a few years ago and am so happy to have the extra money for other fun things. The only time I feel a slight twinge is when someone is talking about a show I really like, but the twinge passes quickly.

    The interview was entertaining and took a twist I hadn’t expected. She started complaining to me about all the horrible things that keep happening to her friends.

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