Thursday, April 19, 2012

Angry Bird Brain

Angry Birds by
Rovio Entertainment Ltd
I'm not sure what it is about my brain that makes me need to finish things. Not important things that keep the household running smoothly like doing the laundry or dishes, but more trivial things like a finishing a morning run without stopping, or completing a crossword puzzle, or killing just a few more pigs with Angry Birds.

Whatever this component is in my brain, I believe it is in high gear when I am writing a novel. Right now, I have novel characters that have become so real in my head, that I think about them when I'm not "with them" at my computer. I wonder what they're going to do next, and ruminate on what they've already done. They become as real as the young people I'm watching on American Idol week after week. I remarked to my husband the other night that I've watched these singers so long now I feel as if I know them somehow.

We went to the mountains last week for spring break. I wanted to write on the trip up, but the kids were in the car, so I opted to play games on my new gadget. I read first using my Bible app and made some very cool Biblical discoveries, then completed a whole crossword puzzle, a game of Sudoku, and several rounds of Angry Birds. When I got stuck on a level, I'd play over and over and over, determined to destroy their houses and kill those little pigs. "These are some smart pigs!" my family got used to me exclaiming. Finally, I had to flip that switch and let go of the pigs and the angry birds for a while. It took a minute or two for my heart to settle down and my temperature to cool.

The same thing happens when I'm trying to write a new chapter and crack its code. Sometimes I have to try over and over with different tactics until the chapter works. When it does, it's a feeling of immense satisfaction. It's clear to me, that writing a novel definitely uses that same Angry Bird component--the compulsive, have-to-keep-going-until-I-complete-this-thing part of my brain--and I'm grateful for it. I think it's a blessing.

So how about you? Do you have a teenager in your family who just can't stop playing video games or practicing basketball or doodling...or...fill in the blank? It might be a blessing in disguise. I have learned that God has wired me this way. I love to be fully engaged mentally. Now, I can either use this part of my brain for mind-numbing entertainment that gets me nowhere and helps no one, or I can use it for something worthwhile. My God-given stick-to-it-ness allows me to spend weeks training for a half-marathon or months in a fictitious world writing a novel. At Christmas-time I can complete massive puzzles of cats with a multitude of minuscule pieces...but I doubt that's ever helped anyone.

At any rate, I like this part of my brain. There is something there that produces euphoria, and although there is nothing scientific about this post, I'm guessing many of you understand and can relate to what I'm saying. It feels good to complete something, to work out long, complicated puzzles in novels, to solve the mysteries, to finally reach redemption for the characters who become larger than life. Before God flipped my switch and gave me my first novel, I wonder what I did with that part of my brain. Nothing quite as productive, I assure you. I think I watched a little too much t.v.

I wonder how you're wired. Have you learned to embrace that quirky thing about you and set it free? I bet if used properly, you could make a difference in the world somehow because God wired you that way. As surely as I write this, God is waiting to take your oddities and use them for his glory in a way that only he can do--only through you. All you have to do is ask him to flip your switch.

Nicole Seitz is the author of six novels, the mother of two adorable kids, and the teacher of about 165 art students. She lives with her family in the Charleston, SC area where she is currently working on her next book. Find her and her work at


Susan Cushman said...

I always enjoy your posts, Nicole. One morning this week I flipped on the TV to get the weather and someone on a morning show was sharing favorite quotes from movies. One that they shared reminds me of what you're saying here. It was a scene from "Chariots of Fire," when Eric Liddell said, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." When I WRITE, I feel His pleasure, and what a great feeling.

Nicole Seitz said...

Love this quote, Susan! Thank you for sharing that.

Debbie Hearne said...

I have never been able to work puzzles and I don't enjoy games! I admire those who do though. I'm still waiting on God to flip my switch.

Nancy Brandon said...

So glad I found this blog. I'm hoping to connect to a new community of writers I've never met before. Looking forward to reading your book!
Nancy Brandon,
Author of Dunaway's Crossing

nreddick said...

Love that determination part of my brain and wonder where I would be without it? Maybe living on the streets! Hope you all had a wonderful trip!!!

book real time collaboration said...

This is such a nice and informative post,
I have always read your posts and I love this post too.

thanks to share this post.

runescape account said...

I like your blog and like playing angry birds so much. When I saw the picture of angry birds, I came to this blog. Great for me!