In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt The Zone.
Tell us about your favorite way to get lost in a simple activity — running, chopping vegetables, folding laundry, whatever. What’s it like when you’re in “the zone”?
And in response to Linda G Hill’s stream of consciousness prompt “ke”
Use the letter combination at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the word you choose to base your post on. Heck, make up your own word if you’d like! Enjoy!
It had always been fairly easy for her to get in “the zone” or at least what she understood it to be. And she liked it there, so much she escaped in her mind as often as she could. Ever since she was in her early teens and her parents kept telling her the music in her headphones was too loud, she’d developed a way to get in that place. In her mind she could live entire lives during a two hour trip. The music wasn’t even that loud anyway but if she had to listen to the radio and her music at the same time, she might as well not listen to either. She didn’t like that. She never liked conflicting sounds. It gave her headaches. It was always either the TV or the radio, a movie or a conversation. She didn’t mind multitasking but when it came to sounds, it was EITHER… OR.
So in the car, she would look outside the window and think of another place, one she’d been to or not, even places that didn’t even exist for real. She’d imagined the world: its colours, its weather, its relief – mountains or meadows? Whether it was industrialized or not. Were there cities or was it mainly countryside scenery? Was the most important place in the story a hamlet or a castle and its dependencies? Once she held the place, she was literally gone there and she’d act what she’d be doing in that world. Would she be her real self? Or would it be an altogether new life she’d create for herself? She was writing stories long before she ever put a pen on a paper, or fingers to a keyboard.
At first, it took some concentration to stay in that zone, and she’d get frustrated when her parents or siblings called her back to the real boring world of a 10 hour drive to her grandparents’ house. Afterwards she developed the trick of closing her eyes so that they’d think she was sleeping. She could spend hours in her wolds. And then it became easier, she’d only need to think of getting away and close her eyes onto whatever world she’d imagined to be able to enter that “zone”.
When she started actually writing, it became the same sort of process. She’d picture the world and characters of her story in her mind. Once she held them, she could write for hours on end without even realizing she was writing. Not completely. But if interrupted she might need days or week before she could return to that particular place.
Eventually, every task that didn’t demand her full attention became a trigger: folding laundry, preparing dinner, even at the office when doing administrative work.
Getting in “the zone” became a problem for her. She kept losing track of time, incapable of understanding how 3 hours could have gone by. Surprisingly she remained efficient and productive at the office, but she couldn’t explain how she’d done this or that. And at home she zoned out on her husband, which became a strain on their couple. It became harder to get back: she’d get swallowed. That “zone” had turned into a black hole and it scared her. So she focused on reality, worked on her couple, saved it. But she became miserable: and her husband knew she needed to write, so he convinced her to pick it up again with certain rules.
So she wrote with a timer: an alarm that would call her back. In time, her children acted as her timer, demanding her attention when she was gone too long – understand more than 10 minutes. She published books under a pseudonym and became more successful than one famous British author who’d sold millions of children books. Critics said her worlds were so vivid they swallowed the reader in. And in one article a well-known author wrote that her words enabled them to get lost in a “time out of time”. It made her laugh because that’s what it was for her for a very long time. People only needed to ensure it didn’t become a bad thing. “The zone” isn’t like reality; it’s not the same thing. And while being in the former can be exhilarating it didn’t replace the latter.
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