07 August 2019

What Do Tangents Look Like & Do They Wear Monocles? | IWSG

The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It's a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there's an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they're struggling with what to say.

This month's optional question is:

"Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you had forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming."
Check out how people have answered this month's question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list here. You can find out how I answered the question below.

My writing takes me by surprise each and every day. 

Hmm. I just read what I wrote. It's not exactly accurate. In fact, it's a bit of a lie.* Or is it a complete lie? Can you have bits of lies or is any untruth a full-fledged lie?

Sorry, that was a bit of an unwanted insight into how my mind operates. It goes off on wild tangents and sends me down rabbit holes where there aren't any adorable, fluffy rabbits, just more odd tangents.

{Did you ever wonder what a tangent looks like? I always picture them as stocky sort of creatures with three eyes who wear waistcoats. Some of them wear monocles too. Although, I'm not sure how they decide which of their three eyes to put the monocle on.}

Anyway, back to what I was saying. When I'm typing away, whether on a blog post or one of my cozy mysteries, sometimes I find myself shaking my head in disbelief at the stuff that flows out of my brain. It's often weird. Sometimes, I find myself smiling because the weirdness is amusing in a sort of Terry Pratchett way. Not that I'm comparing myself to Sir Terence, mind you. I can only aspire to a fraction of his hilarious literary genius one day.

Writers often talk about their muses, that personified force who is the inspiration for their creativity. My muse, Simon the Time Traveling Cat, is constantly surprising me with the stuff he comes up with.** That's gotta be a good thing, right? If he didn't, I imagine that might mean the creative well is dried up. Or do some people have muses which don't surprise them, but still generate lots of interesting ideas?

Yes, I know. More questions than answers. But that's where you come in. Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts on creative muses.

*Were you wondering what this lie was that I was talking about? Since I don't write every day, my writing doesn't take me by surprise on a daily basis. And why don't I write daily? It's all due to a severe lack of mental discipline and focus. I blame all of those monocle-wearing tangents for distracting me. Do you write daily? How do you do it?

**The regulars among you might be wondering where Simon the Time Traveling Cat is today. One of the tangents dropped his monocle, Simon batted it under the couch and he's spent the whole day there trying to get it back out. When I told him it was time to write this month's IWSG post, he ignored me, hacked up a hairball, then went back to ignoring me.


Murder at the Marina is currently a bestseller on Barnes & Noble! 

Talk about your writing surprising you! I know this won't last long (update: the tag has already disappeared), but I'm going to enjoy it while it does. It's on sale for only 99c through August 12th. 

Grab your copy HERE.


Does your writing ever surprise you? What's your relationship with your creative muse like?

Want to find out more about my books? Check out my website. You can also sign up for my newsletter to get updates on new releases, sales and promos, and other fun stuff.


  1. Maybe I need to let more weirdness flow...

  2. Hehe. This post made me think of one word: SQUIRREL! I think of tangents more like the Fear character in Inside Out--skinny and hyper. I can totally picture Simon spending hours trying to get that monocle out from under the sofa. No way do I write daily either!

  3. Congrats on your book success! Yes, live it up and enjoy yourself. You deserve it!

  4. At least Simon is occupied and not tormenting you.

  5. Congrats on being a best seller - loved the book!
    I often talk about my Tigger Brain so I know all about those tangents too!

  6. Congratulations on the BN bestseller status! :)

    And I wish my mind went to weird places instead of the creepy, dark corners where it likes to play.....

  7. Yay Ellen! What a huge accomplishment!
    I love how you captured our writing minds :)

  8. hahahahahahaha!!!!!
    Give my regards to Simon and CONGRATS!!!! on your bestseller status :)

  9. Simon is so naughty. Can't say I blame him though. A three-eyed, waistcoat-wearing monocled guy is just asking for it ;)
    Congrats on making the B&N bestselling list!

  10. Congrats on best seller status!!! I spent 2 years writing daily. It was a challenge as part of another group. Needed to get 100 words per day. I'd set my goals higher and barely hit the 100 some days. I dropped that and feel better not "having" to do it daily.

  11. I spend my working years writing reports. Many say I did a very good job with them. I used them often to testify in court and did that well too. So...writing is not something that interests me. I do enjoy reading other peoples work. Like you.

    Have a fabulous day and week, Ellen. ♥

  12. My stories are from another dimension where lies have teeth much like Simon. When they chomp on a character, it is timed purrrfectly. ;-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  13. Congrats on the B&N bestseller status!!

    I don't write every day, but I certainly think about my projects every day. Perhaps "obsess" is a more accurate term. And my brain is scarily similar to yours in terms of how it just goes off on a tangent if I don't keep it focused. My muse frequently surprises me with her weird take on things.

  14. Now I'm envisioning tangents steampunk octopi. :)

    Woot on being a best seller!! That's awesome! Congrats!

  15. Yeah, congrats on being a best seller. *does a jig for you* I sent you a message via the message thing on your sidebar here.

  16. That's why I believe my muse is real. There's no way I could have come up with some of the stuff I write on my own!
    Congrats on being a best seller! That's so awesome!

  17. Insightful post. I got completely distracted with the thought of what a tangent might look like. Certainly not how mathematicians draw it!

  18. So now that I know what a tangent looks like, I'm on my guard! Thank you so much. This will save me so much time.

  19. My brain defaults to tangent mode. I have to constantly remind myself to focus. Or, more accurately, I will erratically obsess over an unexpected tangent. Is that a thing? For example, I walked into the kitchen fifteen minutes ago to get a Diet Coke, but went straight through the kitchen to the basement and washed all of the dog blankets. My next thought was I should do the rugs next, until I reminded myself to focus...today was a IWSG bloggy day. Get the Diet Coke and get back to the keyboard.

  20. I don't write every day either. That's great that you do write things that surprise you regularly.

  21. I love your description of tangents. :)

  22. They wear the monacle on the eye that has the most astigmatism, of course.

    Your muse is quite funny and a little bit wicked (not in a bad way, just very independent).

    Congratulations on being a best seller!

  23. I believe tangential thinking is the sign of a creative mind. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

    Fun post! :)

  24. You have a VERY creative mind, Ellen! That’s why you are such a fantastic and humoristic writer. I love how your mind goes on tangents. Mine does that a lot as well, but in less creative ways. And, not funny at all. Not sure whether non-fiction writers have muses. Not me. But, some days inspiration strikes more than others. Especially when I’m more energetic than I am these days.

    Yes, I write daily. In a diary. Unfortunately not in a professional or book writing way.

  25. LOVE your random thoughts and, esp. the tangents. My mind works like that, too. SQUIRREL, as one commenter said. Isn't it amazing how that word has crept into common usage and we all know what it means? My Muse often takes vacations without permission or notice. I'm so literal-minded I think of her in long flowing gowns, just the way the Romans did long ago. Right now, she's off visiting another writer, inspiring her/him and ignoring me. I need a whip and chair to discipline her. Have fun writing this month.

  26. Congratulations on being a Barnes & Noble Bestseller!

    A weird brain is a great thing to have if you're a writer. ;)

  27. My writing has slacked off since the July Camp NaNo challenge a bit, but it's very important escapism from this rotten world. ~sigh~ Be well!

  28. So, yeah, speaking of hairballs, I had my first experience with a hairball the other day. I had actually never seen one before so I didn’t know what it was but was pretty sure it was something that emanated from Zara’s stomach. I eventually looked it up on the internet. Luckily it was dry (Now that I have experienced my first hairball, I now have a larger repertoire of things I can discuss with people and have been doing so. And in doing so have learned that they are even grosser when they are fresh.).

    Terry Pratchett has to be the king of the tangent. Often when I read one of his books I get to the end and am not entirely sure how the story got there. I go back and reread the beginning and realize that there was some seemingly insignificant detail that was the very basis of the whole story which I had promptly forgotten. It doesn’t help that I am such a slow reader and it can take me weeks to read even a Sir Terry tale of the Discworld.

    Maybe I need a muse. Do they bug you and say - “Hey get off your lazy butt and write that blog post - geezzz, it’s just an expense report, how hard can it be?” Or do they just come up with brilliant stuff, channel it to you telepathically, and then shake their head in disappointment when you never write it down (Oh, perhaps I have a muse after all?).

    Congrats! Congrats! On MATM making #1.

  29. First, congrats on the book's status, however temporary!

    Second, I don't write every day, though I try to do writerly things every day (sometimes that's a blog post, sometimes it's just reading other people's blog posts), unless I'm on the trail. Actually, then I do write every day, because I keep a journal, though it's more of a log than a journal a lot of the time--hiked here, here, and here for x miles and xxxxx feet up and down.

  30. Oh, and as for tangents, I think mine are more apt to lumber through grunting as they look for something to devour. Or maybe that's just me, hunting for the fridge because writing is hard work.

  31. That's great news that you're a best-seller!

    I love when I'm writing and I put something in, and then later I'm able to use it again as a joke or plot twist. Ah,... yes... I planned that so well... sure I did. Ha ha ha. I love moments like that.

  32. My muse falls asleep when I'm awake - or her mind is on food. Actually, I blame my muse but I'm even better at getting distracted - mainly by rabbit holes filled with fascinating tangents without monocles but saying, 'I'm late, I'm late for a very important date...August 7th'.

  33. I think my muse walked out on me years ago. He had a name and everything. What was it...dang, I hate memory lapses. Maybe I can go to the muse shelter and adopt a new one some time soon.

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