Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happy Feet, Motivated Typing

I've mentioned that I'm taking swing dance lessons; I've mentioned as well that I'm working on a new 1940s WIP. What I didn't mention? I'm doing it at the same time.

Well, almost. Monday nights are swing dance nights, and they're also mad-drafting nights for me. Here's how it works: Husband and I go to lessons at 7. We dance our socks off (currently learning Charleston). He sticks around for the beginner lesson at 8 (they need more leads, so he lends a hand), and I dash off to write for a solid, extremely productive hour before returning for open dancing at 9.

And it's crazy--that hour I get on Monday nights is one of my most productive. Maybe this is because I've worked the jitters out by dancing for an hour beforehand. Maybe it's because I only have an hour, so I use it really well. And maybe, just maybe, it's because I've imbued myself with elements of the era I'm writing about right before sitting down with my laptop. I'm usually wearing vintage or vintage-inspired clothes, I've been dancing in a style close to or taken directly from the era I'm writing about (depending on what style dance I'm working on at the moment), and I've had period music piped into my ears for a solid hour.

I would never say I'm a "Method writer" in the same way some actors are Method actors--I don't have to do these things to get into the mood to write, and I don't feel the need to dig out all my eighteenth-century clothes and a glass of port to draft, for instance, a Revolutionary War-set piece. I don't stay in character or time period (well, some would say I'm a little outdated all the time, but that's another post). But diving into research has always motivated me, and perhaps the most basic of research--tactile experience--can do so all the more. Seeing, tasting, smelling, and, yes, dancing all make me excited to translate what I've experienced onto the page for others to enjoy, too.

Regardless--it's working! Do you ever put yourself, physically in your character's shoes? How about your character's dancing shoes? Ever inspired to try something yourself by a character in a book you enjoyed?

Below--some Happy Feet for you, if you're so inclined!


Noelle Pierce said...

You know, I was just thinking how much more energy I have to write and work after exercising (specifically, my Zumba class). Something about the physical activity stimulates me more than anything else except a nice hot shower. Though I have one of those before I write, too. :D

I like the idea of method writing. Why not? We have to get into the heads of our characters, after all.

Fickle Cattle said...

I always try to act like the character I'm writing. It makes everything flow more freely I think.

Rowenna said...

Noelle--agreed, physical activity is a great motivator!

FC--thanks for stopping by! I definitely role-play from time to time, too!

Brownpaperbaggirl said...

That is so fantastic! What a good idea to be immersed in the dance from the same era you are writing about. I'd love to learn how to really dance. That's on my list of things to do one day.

Hema P. said...

That's so interesting, Rowenna! I recently read somewhere that the two hours after you work out are the most productive hours, irrespective of what kind of exercise it is. I have been contemplating testing that theory out for the last few days. Now that you attested to it, it's time for me to go on that treadmill... :=)

mesmered said...

Imagine me, Rowenna. Heavens knows what sort of clothes I'd wear because I mostly write fantasy. But when I write hist fict, I'm writing about the twelfth century, so I can just imagine doing the housework in a kirtle, chemise and girdle.
But I agree with the need to experience what your protagonists will be feeling, doing. Otherwise there is no truth in the writing, no emotion. Great post.
PS: How can I convince my husband to come to dance classes.