Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Spider Solitaire - The Writer's Friend or Foe?

My name is Sue Ann and I’m addicted to playing Spider Solitaire. If you own a computer (and you do if you’re reading this), you know that Spider Solitaire is one of the free games that comes with almost every computer on the planet.

I once read an article about a business that removed the game from all the computers in the company because so many employees were playing during office hours it was interfering with productivity. I don’t play the game on my computer at work except on occasion during lunchtime (really, boss, I don’t) because I have no need for it there. Nor do I play it on my iphone. I have other addictions for that device.

Spider Solitaire is my go-to place when I’m stuck in my writing. It’s my Magic 8 Ball when dialogue stiffens or a plot is slogging through mud. Not that Spider Solitaire gives me any specific answers. I don’t pick up my laptop, shake it, and turn it upside down hoping for just the right turn of phrase to appear that will get my work in progress moving again. Rather, the game works like Drano.

If I’m working away on something and hit a road block, and the usual methods don’t work in getting over or around that block, I bring up Spider Solitaire and play a few games. It diverts my focus away from the book, giving my brain something else to do. Working on the puzzle of Spider Solitaire provides my brain with a break from the frustration of the temporary writing block. Usually, I’m in the middle of my second or third game when a light goes on in my head and I know exactly what I need to do to get my manuscript going again. It’s like pulling the plug when hitting the off button is useless in stopping a runaway appliance.

My male cat Raffi is like a dog with a bone (and I hope he’ll forgive me that particular phrase). Often when he gets an idea in his head, whether it be bullying my other cat, or scratching a piece of furniture, or treating my feet like his favorite toy, he will obsess until he drives everyone mad, including himself. When he’s like that, I have to pick him up and physically move him into another room. Snapping at him. Telling him NO! will not work. His brain is stuck in a particular groove and come hell or high water he is going to pursue that path. Only breaking his focus will get his brain out of the deep mud and put a new and less annoying idea in his head. If I could, I’d turn him on to Spider Solitaire.

And what if playing Spider Solitaire doesn’t free-up my creative juices? Well, that’s what cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming the house are for. Usually, after a couple of games, if my brain is still like setting cement, I will get up from the computer and start working on a physical household chore. It’s amazing how many great ideas can occur when scrubbing shower tile. Really. 

Then there are the days I play game after game, lost in a fog, my brain unable to form a decent sentence or beat the stupid game. Those are the days I wish Raffi could pick me up and move me to another room.

A former boyfriend used to say he could always tell how well my writing was going by the cleanliness of my apartment. The more messy it was, the better the progress on my writing. When my place was sparkling clean, he knew I was in the weeds.

I'm so glad he never kept track of how many Spider Solitaire games I played.


gregkshipman said...

Basketball, Ms. Jaffarian, basketball. I'm a design engineer *snicker*... from East Baltimore *snort* living/working in Fairbanks, Alaska *double snicker and snort*... when I'm stuck (brain freeze)on a project/report/design I simply head for the campus gym... nothing like getting the shit beat out of you by guys less than half your age to get the gray matter re-mattered. Works every time... *bounce-bounce* *dribble-dribble*... problem solved. Now if I could just get those edumacating assholes to get their nikes offa my face! (foul! you bastards, foul!)

Jessie Chandler said...

Ahhh Sue Ann!!! My Betty was once a member of SSA, Spider Solitaire Anonymous for awhile. She was up till 6am on work days playing the damn game. However, she had no writer's block to break through...so good luck that LOL I loved your ex's observation of the neatness vs messiness of your place and how you were in writing productively. I need to try that (cleaning when I'm stuck) because our place is always a glorious mess :-)

Stacia said...

I've never heard of Spider Solitaire, I swear. Must not come on Macs....

However, I have played 5,020 games of Mah Jong in a farking fish shape, and I cannot win. Jon says that I am crazy; I claim that they wouldn't include a game that wasn't possible to win. Or maybe they would...

I WILL NOT BE DENIED!!! Do you hear me freakin' fish?