Writing is Escapism

Hey everyone, Dani here again.

Escapism (noun) – the avoidance of reality by absorption of the mind in entertainment or in an imaginative situation, activity, etc.

Most any hobby that we have as a society is a form of escapism, a way for us to forget whatever negativity is in our lives and to avoid the doldrums and responsibilities of our work/school/etc.

As a kid I was practically always reading. I went to Middle Earth. I traveled through the cupboard to Narnia. I hopped on the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9 3/4. The list could go on and on, but I hope you all get my point. I had a vivid imagination and it was easy to journey to these foreign lands and journey with the heroes on their epic quests. Even when I wasn’t reading, I was playing out these grand adventures with my friends on the playground.

Growing up, I stopped running around pretending to be some wizard or warrior (well, until recently, thanks to an obsession with D&D and LARPing), and instead started writing down stories about other people.

I call those in these stories characters because that is the easiest and most accepted term by the general populace, but they don’t feel like characters to me. They are my friends, my comrades, in short they are real people who just happen to exist in my mind. Thankfully most other writers I’ve met understand this because they are the same way. So many of my stories have begun thanks to someone just popping up in my mind one day and basically saying “Hi, my name is ____ and you need to tell my story.”

It’s a wonderful feeling, being given the opportunity to jump into a new world and have a new adventure. It reminds me of that simpler time, when I didn’t have to worry about the bills and responsibilities of adulthood. Even now, when I’m bored at work, I’ll find my mind drifting off to one of the lands I write about in my stories, and that conversation with the characters, the inhabitants, of the world, help me to pass the time, which honestly keeps me sane.

I graduated with a B.A. in English Literature in 2010, and then graduated with a M.L.I.S. in 2011, but have been unable to land a job utilizing either degree. To pay the bills I have accepted a job working at an appliance factory, where I am on the assembly line building dryers. It is dull and repetitive, but it gives me plenty of time to daydream. After being at this job for three years, my muscle memory fully takes control and I don’t really have to focus my attention on plugging in wires or shooting screws.

So, as it has been most of my life, I escape my reality and journey to lands where things work out in the end. Sure, people may struggle, but the heroes find a way to overcome adversity and defeat the villains. There is adventure and romance and typically some form of magic.

Here’s a fun fact: I’ve even escaped from one writing project into another. Thanos, the main character in Project Death: Revelation, the second book in my Project Death series, has hidden his past from others for so long that he doesn’t want to talk about it now that he needs to. I pressured him for a while, but then I acquiesced and took a step back…which led to Lemley Thiel and Dax Ko’Vale approaching me about their story.

And what a story they have together. I’ve been putting together a binder full of details of their world: the map, the Courts and Guilds, the politics of all the nations, the magic, the technology, everything. It has developed from just a couple scribbles on paper to a fully fledged new world. I’ve only been told a couple chapters of their story so far but I am enjoying it so much that I’m afraid the escape of it all is going to keep me from the reality that Thanos’s story needs to be finished.

Escapism can be a wonderful thing, but I guess I can also see where it can be a huge pitfall for writers. I know there’s work I need to do, but I keep escaping into these side projects and also into reading books for pleasure. Right now, my project needs to be finding my way out of the worlds I disappear too so often and to pay attention to the world that needs my focus.

Has anyone else experienced this issue? What methods and techniques have you used to get yourself back on track? I’m willing to try just about anything right now. I can say that I’m tired of putting off finishing this book all I want, but words are not actions. I need that kick in the pants to jumpstart my Project Death writing again.

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