Sudoko For Writers

I catch the train into work everyday and often end up standing. I would rather sit and burrow my way into the novel I am reading or open my Mac and finish the thought I was working through the previous night, but it’s not always an option. Seating is at a premium during commuting hours. I use the free time wisely and slip into my writer-stalker mode. I plug into my IPOD to block out the hum of conversation, especially if it’s a twenty something talking into her phone about her forlorn heart and the beau who pushed her to near hysteria. I feel for her having lived through my share of almost but not quite love affairs, but it’s not something I want to use my writer’s muscles on. Once in a blue moon the conversation is too juicy to pass by so I drop in uninvited and linger as long as possible. But usually, I slip into the lyrics of a song and make like the writer I am: always on the lookout for ideas to jot down in my Random & Disconnected Thoughts journal kept for story fodder. Eye stalking and note keeping is Sudoku for the writer.

A pianist starts her day by running scales, her hands fly up and down the ivory whites until the body’s tension melts into the bench and the finger are pliable. It should be the same for the writer. A writer’s mental muscles require the same attention and care. The writer’s job is to keep the mind and imagination flush with possibility. Being on all the time can overwhelm and seem daunting if not mastered. A writer’s mind is a fragile place. It’s subject to the whims of the heart. It is easily manipulated by its own demons. The writer hovers between almost balanced and complete disarray, most of the time.  When a writer is not writing, they are thinking about writing.  The down time for a writer is as limited as the seats during a morning commute, therefore, coveted and used wisely. The life of a writer if often less grand than characters in the stories we write— we are not running with the wolves or riding in hot air balloons over the Southwest—our noses are buried in books to expand our minds and further educate us on the craft we dwell in. Who else can teach us more than a fellow writer? Reading helps but it’s not enough.

Most writers I know are always writing. Even when not focusing on a current WIP they are working on something. We blog, keep journals, write short stories and poems, reviews, political rants, or interview fellow writers. The writer is ever improving and sharpening their craft—remember the 10,000 rule, the more you do something the better you get, well, to be good at anything requires a minimum of a 10K investment—a dedicated and passionate writer has this etched into the back of her mind.

Once a person declares to the world, I am a writer see me soar, a binding deal is struck with universe. From that point forward, the output must be engaging. A writer stands by her words and commits to deliver compelling content (whatever it might be). The words on the virtual and printed page should pack a punch and be strong enough to rip the reader from his/her Tuna on Rye.  How to do that all the time is what keeps a writer up at night pacing the living room floor, and occasionally, howling at the moon or crying in her Merlot. Carrying this burden can stop a writer dead in her tracks.

How to stay fresh, prevent writer’s block, and write compelling content is the bane or cross the writer bears.  I don’t subscribe to writer’s block so I can’t offer any wisdom on that subject other than to sit your bum into a chair and write, even if all you write is, I got nothing to say, until something comes out. On staying fresh, here’s a tip that keeps my writer’s mind spry and nimble on the blank page.

Each time your leave your home make the commitment to yourself that you cannot return until observing something or someone for the Random and Disconnect Thoughts journal. Don’t get lazy. Don’t say, I’ll start tomorrow or catch up later, do it now.  Listen with you writer ears, stalk with your writer’s eyes, breathe as if it’s the first time you’re smelling the salty sea off the Atlantic or the musky odor of someone who has finished a five mile run. Keeping your eyes and mind open is Sudoku for the writer.


How do you stay nimble and fresh?  


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I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

35 thoughts on “Sudoko For Writers

    • Hi Amy.. It’s always a wonder where we writer’s find our inspiration. It’s no surprise we help one another out, me with you, you for me, and so on.

  1. This is a really interesting question. What keeps me most fresh as a writer is, paradoxically, not writing. Not doing at all–but rather meditating. In my meditation practice through concentration I go to a place beyond words. This refreshes my mind. I can get very hung up when I write, even if I’m only doing exercises, and I fall into a mindset where I have to prove something. I have to get completely out of that and then I’m ready to go again!

    • Helen, I am ever fascinated by the various ways a writer comes to their center. My mind is only void of though (I think) when I am walking. I know I am thinking as I walk I am just never entirely sure what it is I am pondering. All I know is what I start out thinking about isn’t where I end up. Try writing letters when you stall.

    • Kelly – I tried that but sitting on the train and talking into a recorder isn’t, how shall I say, a good thing to do. People move away from you because they are concerned about your mental stability. :-) I do carry it when I am on my walks. And true, some stuff is too good to pass by.

  2. I stay nimble and fresh by reading articles like this, which is an absolute zinger! I think this is the absolute nicest way I have ever been encouraged to get off my proverbial butt and do what I’m supposed to be doing, either writing or getting prepared to write! Fantastic post Brenda, you have outdone yourself.

    • Thanks, Elizabeth. Treat yourself, take your journal to the local coffee or tea bistro have a cup and write AND stalk with your writer’s eyes.

  3. This is good food for thought, Brenda. Usually when I can’t write I read. Some of the books I read I review – which has me writing something. Also, as an escape I love watching movies. In the Summer, I am refreshed by flowers and birds .. so many delightful antics of a variety of birds around my house right now; a picture book idea came to me yesterday while enjoying them.
    Sometimes I just need a nap. :)

    • Lynn, I am a big time movie buff, which is where I am when I am not writing. It’s a hard habit to break not that I’ve tried. I am not a nature girl but I do spend a lot of time walking so I can see how the colors of the flowers, their shapes and sizes can be alluring. Birds on the other hand, hmmm. I am permanent scarred by Hitchcock’s movie.

  4. I scribble notes on the observations I make on the train sometimes, but I’d be uncomfortable when there’s someone sitting next to me. I know he/she must be peeping at what I’m writing, and that unsettles me. Writers have fluttery hearts like birds. But the bits on the train are sometimes too juicy to let flit by unwritten. These details are worth taking down. Your post is the second in the past hour that makes me want to play the piano soon. (In the morning. In the morning. I shall get to it.) Great post, B.!
    Claudine Gueh recently posted….This Trip of So-MuchMy Profile

    • C- I love that line about writers have fluttery hearts. I have one of those. I know what you mean about people reading over your shoulder. I hate it, but being guilty of stalking (and not in a bad way) I get why people do it. This morning on my train ride in I was struck by this woman with silver hair. She was slight of frame, and eyes the color of jade. It was her boots that caught my attention. I don’t know what kind they were, but they were old but well cared for. Something about the way she was standing and staring off into space fired my imagination. I wrote down as much as I could. I’ll save her for a story. Go play the piano, exercise those fingers.

  5. I write on everything – napkins, reciepts, my arm….those little tid bits and broken thoughts are enough to build my bigger ramblings later, when I have time. But I always carry a pen. Always.

    • Erin, I am never without pen or something to write on except when I am walking. I’ve learned to use the smartphone as a way to record a thought. My family has long since forgiven me for taking my Mac when we go on vacation, and for eye and ear stalking. My daughter frequently catches me mid stalk. It’s kind of funny now, but it’s a habit.

    • Thanks, Becky. I’m with you on music, walking instead of running. I am certain I as a people watcher long before I donned the writer’s hat.

  6. very interesting, brendaaaa ~

    i am definitely a stalker, but more with my camera than with my notebook. i write mostly about myself — hmmm…

    i love watching people and i learn about myself and the world by watching them, but i actually do consider it a part of my life work to be the one who IS: “…running with the wolves or riding in hot air balloons over the Southwest…”

    that’s where i get my material 😉
    Dangerous Linda recently posted….faerie wisdomMy Profile

    • Linda – and you have amazing photos. I am not out to be a photographer, but I keep thinking I want one of this little Coolpix cameras so I can take snaps when I see something I want to remember. It’s small enough to slip in and out of my backpack when I am in route to the office. Might be a gift from me to me.. I think you’re a wise woman, Linda. We do learn a great about ourselves from others – can’t be helped. They see a part of us we are often blind to. I am riding in the balloons over the southwest this fall, I’ll be sure to take snaps and post. As for running with wolves, there is a book (can’t remember the name at the moment) that talks about past lives and running with packs, meaning we continue to come back and run with the same pack of people. Interesting theory.

      • i have heard that anyone in this lifetime who is more than an acquaintance is someone we have traveled with in a previous lifetime…

        i enjoy romantic mystical notions like that 😉
        Dangerous Linda recently posted….friday momentMy Profile

  7. I try to keep my mind fresh by doing new things. Trying out something new, learning something new, sometimes big, sometimes small, sometimes getting out of my comfort zone… Those things can help.
    angel011 recently posted….I’ve Got the Cover!My Profile

    • Ivana – I am so with you on stepping outside of the comfort zone. I find this the best way to stay shape. I write very good bad poetry all the time just to push myself beyond my zone of ease. It is really one of the best ways for the writer to stay sharp.

  8. ***pacing the living room floor, and occasionally, howling at the moon or crying in her Merlot.***

    Yes, I have cried in my Merlot.

    ….but I write much better completely sober!

    Brenda, you should be writing for Writer’s & Poets Magazine, Dear. Xxx
    My Inner Chick recently posted….A Letter To Her MurdererMy Profile

    • Kim – Since I mostly write at night there is always a glass of wine I sip. Weekends if I can escape the house during the day I am at the library and have to settle for tea. :( I think I should have my own column somewhere but until somewhere finds me I write here on Passionate Pursuits.

    • Rimly – I don’t play sudoko–math is not a favorite–and this ins’t a one for one match, but in principal it’s a practical approach to staying sharp as a writer. I am glad to see you again – I keep tabs on your poetry, so much passion, woman.

  9. Lynne Favreau

    Anytime I’m waiting in my car I jot down physical descriptions of the people I observe, and descriptions of the scene-it’s now become a habit I do automatically.

    I like to push myself to write poetry especially conforming to particular forms such as sonnets, or pantoums.

    • Lynne, I write poetry as well, but I’ve not ventured into form since that would require studying ‘how-to’. Free verse is more my style. Kudos to you for going the distance with poetry. I know what you meant about the habit forming – happens without awareness.

  10. Wow, Brenda! Such inspiration and great advice for all writers. I, too, spend much time in observation of people and nature and give myself quiet, reflective time when seeking enlightenment about the next blog. If I don’t write something, even if it’s small, each and every day, I feel incomplete. It’s just what I do. :)
    Thanks for this lovely post!
    Martha Orlando recently posted…."Let it Shine, Let it Shine, Let it Shine!"My Profile

    • Martha – I know what you mean about not begin complete without a note or two, even if it’s a stray thought. I used to ignore them thinking they didn’t need to be jotted down, but I no longer to that. If one comes a calling it gets noted. You never know when a random thought can turn into something bigger. As always, your continued presence on Passionate Pursuits is appreciated.

  11. Hi Brenda,

    While reading this post I felt like I was being scolded (for not writing), schooled (on what to do to get back on track and stay there), and disarmed (by having my many poor excuses laid out for all to see). Most importantly, I felt as if I was being given a pep talk.

    Write, write, write.

    I know that you weren’t writing specifically to me, of course, but that’s the way I read it, so maybe you were in a way, and that’s a good thing. Maybe you’ve helped me to claw my way out of the non-writing hole that I crawled into so many months ago.

    Ray Colon recently posted….I’ll Read it on MondayMy Profile

    • Ray, Ray, Ray!! I promise it wasn’t my intention, but I am glad my words touched a chord inside of you. I am sorry that you crawled into a writing hole. I don’t know how you survived all these months without your words. I know you did, but I bet your creative self was pining for release. Welcome back, my friend.

  12. Brenda, my iPad is extremely useful. I take it with me everywhere and open it anywhere, so if an idea comes to mind, I can quickly write it down. The best investment I made (aside from getting the iPad) was getting the Pages app. I practically write all my posts using it.
    Monica recently posted….Euro Traveller ExtraordinaireMy Profile

    • Monica, welcome back, my sweet. I don’t have the IPAD, I opted for the MacAir, not quite the same thing. Now the Pages App sounds like the perfect accompaniment for the writer ever ready to write. I didn’t buy the IPAD because it didn’t seem like it would work for me, but you’ve proven me wrong.

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