Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Key to Writing

All I can say is thank God for my writer's group and their objective eyes reading my stories. I spent all week immersed in a major rewrite that I thought I had pretty much nailed. Uh, not so much. It turns out there was too much residue left in from the old version and it marred this draft, resulting in murky motives and shakey dispositions in characters that I didn't intend. So I am mulling new possibilites, churning what-ifs to see what happens. Which leads me to this: I have discovered the key to writing. Let me clue you in.

There are two actually. The first is one you hear over and over but ignore in hopes that they are all wrong and that you really can learn to write through some sort of osmosis. Well, you can't. So the first secret is to write. To show up on a regular basis. Every day if possible which I have since September 1 when my great novel writing challenge began. It's cliché but true: writing begets writing.

Secret number two: walking. There is just something about the rhythm of walking that allows all those characters and scenes you've been pouring onto the page because you've been showing up everyday, to settle and shift into new patterns, unlocking places in the story that were previously stagnant. The movement of walking allows your story to move. Again, this is something that you cannot just take my word on. You need to experience it yourself. This week during one of my walk so many of the scenes that had been flashbacks suddenly became part of the current story. Then today, after my workshop, I went for a 45 minute walk around Kensington lake where blue water shimmered against the backdrop of fiery leaves and white sailboats. I got back to my car, grabbed a notebook and sat at a picnic table and scribbled two pages worth of what-if questions. Now I may not use all of them but they are enough to get my story moving again and to get me back into the story.

Go ahead. Show up to that blank page every day this week, even if you don't know what happens next. Especially if you don't know what happens next. Then walk. Carry the story with you and walk in silence. No tunes. No books on tape. Just you and the story. See what happens.

QUOTE
Every moment is enormous, and it is all we have.
- from "Long Quiet highway"

1 comment:

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