THE RHYTHM OF WRITING.
The experience of writing is no less subject to rhythm than any other activity. After all, if everything on this planet, including the planet itself, moves to a rhythm, whether it’s annual, seasonal or daily, it only makes sense that creativity also possesses an innate rhythm.
It seems to me that the rhythm of writing a story, from the original concept through fusion of ideas and planning to the finishing point, is like a wave. Once the process of transferring the story from imagination to page is concluded, the writer, like the wave which has crashed on to the beach with its energy spent, has completed the cycle and starts over again.
Although my story isn’t yet finished the creative wave, fueled by my enthusiasm to write it, has crested and the energy invested will (hopefully) carry it to shore. My novel is currently with beta readers (I think of it as on vacation with friends, although a check up with x-rays, CT scans etc,. is probably more apt) and I’m missing the daily rhythm that sitting down to write gives my life.
Mmm, yes, there’s an endless list of jobs which need attention, but the thing is I don't want to stop writing. So I churned over my options. Should I write a short story? Should I work on one of several projects simmering gently away on the back burner? I really need to do some more drawing...
But I also need to breathe out. Take a step back. On the other hand, I’m aware of the pressure time exerts. So I turned to Stephen King’s On Writing to see what he advises. His recommendation is that ‘your mind and imagination.....have to recycle themselves, at least in regard to this one particular work.’ Now King is a prolific writer talking about a first draft which he’s written in months. His suggestion is to take at least six weeks and absorb yourself in another project (or life) during this time.
However, I’m a slow writer who has taken a long, long time to arrive at this point. But I understand why having a serious length of time away from a piece of work is important – you need perspective.
I’ve decided I’m not going to think about the book for at least two weeks. Ideally I’d like to leave it for a month - can’t afford six. I received some encouraging feedback from my first beta reader on what works and where there’s room for improvement, so when I do return to the novel, it will be to make revisions with a fresh eye.
I think my writing rhythm is becoming clear. After a long period of immersion in one story, while it’s resting, I work on the next. When the first one arrives back, the second is put aside. This isn’t a rhythm set by any clock and it may be a rhythm which works only for me, but as long as it works, that’s what is important.
That decision sorted, what to do about the urge to write? Well, there is the blog, which is a valid form of writing but that’s a different conversation with readers. So, I dug up my efforts from last year’s nanowrimo. Of course, I’d barely read a sentence or two before the story became alive in my imagination and the urge to edit kicked in and what to occupy my writing self with was obvious.
(I’m going to plug the nanowrimo here because participating in such a creative endeavour, is not only a great way to put down a first draft, but also strengthens - and tests - your determination to write. The discipline needed to achieve a good solid number of words a day, which may be more than your usual daily efforts, is a challenge but what a feeling of euphoria you get when you can manage it – plus you have the benefit of another potential novel.)
The question of what I’ll call my blog, now titled ‘my first novel etc.,’ when I get to the stage of a second novel is something I’ve not considered. I’ll have to change something - working on my second novel no working title yet - though that doesn’t have quite the same ring. Nonetheless, it’s a problem I’ll be very happy to face.
I’d love to know what other writers out there do when you finish a project.
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To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.
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