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Jeff Foxworthy has this routine about how women, while slow to “warm up”, once they “get going” can run a long, long, long time. He, bless his little redneck heart, is a huge proponent of foreplay. Because of this forward-thinking propaganda he has played on every comedy stage between Boston and Sacramento, we pirate wenches on the Romance Writer’s Revenge are awarding Mr. Foxworthy the “You Can Shiver Me Timbers Anytime” plaque and “We’ll Roger Him Jolly” coupon, which grants him one night of blissful sin with the lot of us.
Provided he gets his wife’s permission first, of course.
In the meantime of waiting for him to seize upon this ever-so-tempting and once-in-a-lifetime offer, we thought we’d take this opportunity to teach you how to use “foreplay” in your writing. The concepts are much the same.
For instance, the key of foreplay to sex is getting our brains into the gist of the thing. (This is where men and women are so different.) You read the articles all the time in Cosmo—well, more likely Redbook—about women’s most sexual organ is their brains. (I think in Cosmo, the biggest sex organ is the guy’s wallet, but I digress.)
The trick, they say, to “get going” faster is to start earlier. They don’t mean by allotting 3 hours to fooling around either, because what owner of a Redbook magazine has that sort of time to spare for sex? I doubt any of us could spare that sort of time for George Clooney, let alone our KBPs*. Therefore, you need to start thinking about sex much earlier in the day to get in the mood for it.
Start flirting earlier. Kiss your husband before you go to work—tell him you’re not wearing panties, whatever—and trot out the door. (Of course, this is a lie…but he won’t know that.) Then at noon, he’ll call to check on your panty status—and you’ll exchange some more suggestive banter before you have to run off to that all important meeting. 6 p.m. you walk in the door and your husband molests on the dinner table. He doesn’t ask “what’s for dinner?”—you both know what’s for dinner. Pizza.
Redbook offers this handy-dandy little tidbit because we’re multi-taskers with no time to spare. We’ve carved out X amount of time for this activity and we want to make the most of it. We certainly don’t want to be burdened by our own hang ups that keep us from our goal: getting it done and done right. (We Americans are extremely goal-oriented, or why bother, right?)
Writing can be like this.
You’ve carved out the hour between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. every night to write, because it’s the only feasible hour you have; and the infuriating part is that every time you do, you spend 20 minutes re-reading the last couple pages; 20 minutes thinking about what needs to be written next; then 20 minutes writing at most a page because every word seems a chore—but you’ll be damned if you turn off the computer before you write something. True, it is writing, but it’s not a lot of writing—and you end up going to sleep, not very satisfied with your results.
Frighteningly similar isn’t it?
Solution: you need to do your foreplay much earlier in the day, while your brain is still awake to appreciate it, while you can mull over the possibilities—so when the time comes, you can slam, bam, and thank you, Graham that writing time into some productive pages.
Over your morning cup of coffee, re-read the last couple pages of your story and/or notes of a scene you’re working on. Mull it over on the way to work. The more you think about your story, the earlier you think about your story—the more your story will work it out for you, even when you’re not actively thinking about it. You might be in an important meeting at 3 p.m. that drained you of all creativity, but at 5:20, when you’re sitting at the red light, your brain will pop up with the strangest of information: “This IS what happened” and you’ll argue, “But I wasn’t thinking of the story right now.”
You’ll get home—after spending some traffic time playing “What if?” to make sure your brain has worked out the obvious pitfalls. You’re almost too excited for supper, but who are we kidding? You eat. You might even skip that 7 p.m. NBC primetime show you should be skipping anyway—just so you can write earlier on your new development! You’ll write several pages, without having to re-read your last chapter or staring blankly at your computer screen.
The words will just be there, waiting for you to type them out. Like magic. But it’s not magic. It’s just foreplay.
And we owe it all to Jeff. Thank you, Jeff!
Next week: How and why Tivo can be written off as a business expense.
*Knocking Boots Pirates