Friday, December 16, 2011

You Have Permission


The last two weeks not in my comfort zone have worked to shake up my world a little bit. We are finally ready to move back into our own house and back to our own routines. Here with my parents is simply different than how we are at home. The TV is on more - exponentially more. Even though they have wireless, it's more difficult to be online with all the extra noise and distractions. The kids have less to do, so are more likely to get in trouble. With four adults in the house, we're right on top of each other, particularly when the kid(s) are in bed. It's more difficult to find the time to crack open a book or really focus on getting the words out.


Yet, with all this TV watching and lack of privacy, accepting that I wouldn't be able to really work on my writing turned out to be not as bad as I'd thought. As I haven't been writing much because of everything going on, anyway, giving myself permission to not write at all was refreshing and enlightening.

I have come to the conclusion that down time in writing is completely under-rated. Of course, by down time, I mean not sitting on your computer or with your notebook, furiously trying to get out so many words per hour so you can finally finish this work in progress - particularly when words aren't flowing. Unless you're on a deadline, there's no reason not to simmer in creative thoughts. That's not saying you shouldn't give yourself (and stick to) a deadline if you haven't been given one. However, not writing a few thousand words within a specific time frame isn't necessarily the end of the world.

This is particularly true in two situations: Preparing to write the story and tearing the story apart on re-writing or revising.

Preparing to write the story is a time of research and planning. There is no reason not to take some time here to think things through, to let scenes form and build on themselves, juggling themselves into a vague order you can outline or note. Taking time here can help make your plot fill in so you're not stuck as much when you get to power-write the first draft. Instead of a word goal here, set aside times to meditate or sketch (pics or words) out your ideas. Search the web for inspirational images or photos. Create your playlist of songs that knock your brain into the story.

Re-writing has a different angle on the issue, but you can still be thinking about major changes along with minor ones. You have your ideas settling even if your story has a beginning, middle and end. What if your main character turned out too perfect? What if the love interest or suspense isn't convincing? Sure you could dive in and try to find plot holes, re-organize scenes, and otherwise chop up your work, but certain parts really just need thought and other inspiration. Watch your movies, read the books you put off while writing your draft. Maybe your main character needs a physical change to help add depth. The inspiration is out there somewhere - you just have to look. Throw what you find into the mix and let it marinade until the parts that don't work are filtered out, and the others have morphed their way into the changes you need them to be.

Stories are born of the mind, after all. It would be a disservice to not let your thoughts work through your creation. This shouldn't take too much time. Set yourself a deadline here, too. Use the 30 days between finishing the first draft and looking at it again. Or, if you really want to put it away for 30 days, set yourself a time period after that point. However you do it, give yourself permission to not write and let your brain work it's magic.