Battling the CONSTANT Voices

Most of the time my inner voices don’t really stand a chance against the outer ones. 

I never realized how much plotting, world-building, character pondering, etc. I did while going about my non-writerly business, until I had children. Who talk. And ask questions. And sing the entire soundtrack from the movie Frozen in consecutive order. Constantly. 

A few years ago I was struggling every time I sat down to write and I couldn’t figure out why. And then I realized that all the “prep” work I’d been doing in my waking life had been usurped by endless questions and conversations like these:

“What’s a baby warthog called?”

“Can I see your uvula?”

“Did you hear my fart? It sounded like someone surprised a chicken.”

“Do baboons have tails or just really ugly butts?”

“Why do all the old people in Costco like me so much?”

“What do you pleasure to the flag?”*

“Did you see my fart? I was trying to make fireworks come out of my butt.”

“What do you call those little things that float around and make fire?”

“Why isn’t this popcorn popping? I’m breathing on it really hard.”

ME: Is your brother ready to go?
DAUGHTER: No. He’s sitting in the hallway putting on his pants. He’s putting both legs in one side and yelling, “I’m a mermaid! I’m a mermaid!”

SON: It's a good thing I have arms!

ME: Why's that?

SON: Otherwise my hands wouldn't be attached to my body!

DAUGHTER: Max is one of my tobemarries.
ME: Did you say "to be marries"?
DAUGHTER: Yeah. One of the people I might marry. I'm not sure who I want to marry yet. I don't know what any of them are going to look like when they grow up.

DAUGHTER: *Pretends to feed her rice to an imaginary dog*
ME: Now put some in your mouth.
DAUGHTER: But it has puppy slobber on it!

DAUGHTER: I think if I get a little bit smarter I’ll be the smartest kid in the world.
SON: *Holds out his new rubber balls* I got stinky balls.

ME: Can you pick out some shoes and meet me by the front door, she said, hoping against hope that this time he would magically comply.
SON: Um, yeah, I need to finish building a highway on the couch first.
ME: She sighed heavily, knowing she was doomed to repeat this scenario every single time she attempted to leave the house.
SON: Who’s that girl you’re talking about?
ME: She’s me. I lapse into third person when I’m trying not to lose my mind.
SON: *giggles maniacally*

DAUGHTER: My Dada’s name is Dan.
ME: Oh, really? What does your dad do for a living?
DAUGHTER: He’s a scientist.
ME: How interesting. What does your mom do for a living?
DAUGHTER: She works down in her lair.

These days I have an actual office instead of a lair (our former basement), and now that I appreciate how much my brain needs the time and space to daydream, I make sure I have time to cogitate as well as write. I have a whole new appreciation for moments I used to consider a waste of time- the dentist is running late? Awesome! I’ll just hang out and see if I can figure out my MC’s character arc!

If your world is currently crowded with “outer voices,” don’t underestimate the value of a few moments of relative silence. 

You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it. ~Neil Gaiman
*In case you’re wondering, the answer is legiance. As in, “I pleasure legiance to the flag…”


I still love it when the dentist is running behind...And getting to drive somewhere all by myself!

"I'm a mermaid, I'm a mermaid!" Please thank your children for these wonderful words. They certainly are more entertaining and less mean than the ones in my head.

So...what was the answer to the baboon question?

Ha! In my household, it would be "Car! Car! Car!" over and over again, interlaced with some "Mommmmyyyy!" and "Up!"

I laughed out loud at "works down in her lair" ..... Great post.

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