Wednesday, March 6, 2013

10 Signs You're *Not* in The Zone

Every writer dreams of being in The Zone - that magical place where words and ideas flow. There's a reason it's a dream because for many of us (myself most definitely included), our visits there are too few and far too fleeting. Here are ten signs that you too, my sister (or brother), are most assuredly not in The Zone:

10. Just one more game of Solitaire (or Free cell or Angry Birds or...). Just one. Oops, where did that hour go?

9. Notice you've used the word 'pretty' twice. Not in the same paragraph; the same sentence.

8. (If you write mysteries) your sleuth is about to have his/her big 'aha' moment. This is when you realize there is no logical way they could have leaped to the solution.

7. Realize your fingers are cramping because they've been frozen over the keyboard for such a long time.

6. It's been so long since you've looked at your WIP that when you actually open up the document you have to spend considerable time re-reading it because you have no idea what's going on.

5. Congratulations; you've just forgotten your main character's name.

4. You've only got half an hour to write and you're determined to make it count. Okay, just one more game of solitaire and you're going to start.

3. Your pet just came into the room, yawned, and left. He knows.

2. You've been popping about the Internet completing vital research. How is it possible that your computer's screen is showing travel packages to Tahiti?

1. You've achieved a new high score in Solitaire (or Free cell or Angry Birds or...). It's time well-spent.

Elspeth Antonelli
is an author and playwright. Her murder mystery games "A Fatal Fairy Tale" and "Deadly Ever After" are among the top-selling mystery games on the web. Her newest games, "Curiouser and Curiouser" and "Murder: Hollywood Style" have just been published .  All thirteen of her murder mystery games and two audience-interactive plays are published by She has also contributed articles to the European writers' magazine Elias. Connect with her on Twitter at @elspethwrites.


  1. Actually, I like playing a few games of Solitaire before I write. It's mindless enough to help clear my mind before I delve into my fictional worlds.

  2. Elspeth, Just the title gave me a chuckle of acknowledgement that you've pegged my current state. And your list kept me chuckling. Thanks. Now, let me get back to some more "research." ;-)

  3. In other words, it's best I don't figure out what online solitaire, angry birds or free cell is?

  4. I've become addicted to the Mahjong Daily Challenges that came with the new computer. Usually, it doesn't take me too long to finish the 3 games, but some days ....

    And if you've never tried Angry Birds on a 27 inch touch screen--don't. I didn't reinstall it after my crash.

    Terry's Place

  5. I gave up all computer games for Lent. You wouldn't believe how much work I'm getting done.

  6. Oh, I'm in the zone ... the twilight zone ... at least that's what my wife claims.

    Here's a shameless PSA for anyone who cares: based on Morgan Mandel's recent post, I've figured out how to change the URL of my blog and, wisely or not (most likely the later), I've changed it to:

  7. I'm actually stuck IN the zone.

    The #6 zone. Ugh!

  8. Thanks for the chuckles, Elspeth. We know we can always count on you to give us some good tips, couched in humor.

    I don't have a lot of games on my main computer. That way I am not tempted too much.

  9. Love this, Elspeth. Oh, motivation, where art thou? As soon as I find it, we'll head straight to the zone.

  10. ikmar; I think all of us have our warming up rituals - the trick is to recognise when the warming up time is longer than the work time!

    alison - Good luck! And thanks for letting me know you enjoyed my post. I appreciate it!

    Yvonne; YES!

    Terry; I've never played Mah Jong and (here's my confession) I have nothing but a nodding acquaintance with the birds and their anger issues.

    LD; Oh, I'd believe it!

    Christopher; I wish you many additional blog readers!

    Kathryn; I feel your pain.

    Maryann; Thanks for the kind words and let me tell you a secret - I gave up games when I went to England last summer.

    Linda; I'm so glad you liked my post. If you find a map which leads you directly to the zone, please let me know!

  11. Elspeth - Oh, you've caught me! Those are definitely signs of not being in the zone. I especially identify with #3, #5, #7 and #9 *sigh*

  12. Margot; Thanks *so much* for dropping by! I miss our bloggy times!

  13. Ouch! #5 happened to me yesterday.

  14. LOL. Nice to have some levity, but alas, all too true, I'm afraid! I too had to give up solitaire and Mah Jong, AND on-line jigsaw puzzles! Never get anything done with those on my mind!

  15. Hahahaha. #6 sure resonates with me!

  16. Anonymous; It'll be your secret.

    Heidi; It's funny 'cause it's true!

    Dani; Laughing helps, doesn't it?

  17. Elspeth, I especially love it when I read something I wrote, and am actually impressed because the writing is rather good. But first I think it's somebody else's writing! Hahaha. Doubly amusing.

  18. Dani; I've had those moments too. Aren't they delightful?


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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