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Wandering Around With a Story in My Head

I've been a big proponent of writing regularly to foster improvement.  For me, regularly means every day.  For someone else, it might mean weekends, or every Thursday morning, etc.  As long as it's regular and there isn't too much time between sessions.  The writing becomes a discipline (which turns out to be better than writing solely from inspiration--pure you've-got-to-write-me-now inspiration is remarkably inconsistent and fickle, and the weird thing is that when I'm done with a story, I can't see that the -you've-got-to-write-me-now stories are any better than the ones I started without a clue).

At any rate, I mention the regular writing idea because I went out for bagels this morning with my wife and youngest child, and while I was half way through my bagel, a solution to my current story problem entered my head.  The effect of regular writing is that the story is never too far from my consciousness.  When I don't write regularly, I lose momentum.  It's difficult for me to start a story, interrupt it with another project, and then return to it.  When I return, the story has left my head.  It can take several days of work to capture again why I was interested in the first place.

Some activities encourage me to think about the story, assuming I've been recently working on it.  Washing dishes, driving by myself, showering, mowing the lawn, jogging, and wandering alone through a book store are my favorites, but a story thought can strike at any time.  Even half way through a bagel.

Oh, while we were at the bagel shop, I was joking around with my ten-year old, and I asked him if he had a girlfriend.  He said, "I don't believe in love in the elementary school because it doesn't go anywhere." 

That will teach me to ask a direct question.

Just a reminder to folks who have friended me recently, I have gathered all my posts on writing into a sort of table of contents at Writing Topics on This Site.  Sometimes I want to relook at what I said about a subject, and other times folks ask me to repeat a thought.  With the topics gathered together, the search is easier.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 26th, 2008 07:35 pm (UTC)
I'm with you on the regular writing. What I find out, thought, is that I'm not always focusing on the story in progress. My current novel in progress, Pledges of Honor, is floating along steadily at 700-1500 words per day. However, I don't seem to be thinking much about it. What I'm thinking about is related to a short story I have to revise, which is also connected to a novel that's sitting in the slow cooker waiting for revision.

Right now I need to do major revisions. But those are going to be good revisions, since they fix a major problem with that novel.

It's not that I'm not thinking about Pledges. That one just seems to be cooking along slowly, with small bits that percolate along slowly. One reason I'm thinking a lot about the other novel now is that it's ski season, and that particular story is tied heavily into skiing and the future.

I do a lot of thinking about writing during my commute. Crank up the CD, head up the mountain, and think. I also think about writing when I'm skiing the easy bits, or travelling.
Jan. 27th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC)
What is "regular" and then what to do during that time varies a lot from writer to writer. I like the "percolate" metaphor.
Jan. 27th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC)
Great post, great thoughts, Jim. Very interesting how writing regularly keeps the ideas fresh. I definitely have had the problem where I lose interest in a blossoming idea if I don't get it down quickly, I'll be interested to see if that solution works for me, too.
Jan. 27th, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC)
While I agree that a regular schedule helps to keep the writer's block at bay (sorta like literary fiber for the mental diet), I do a couple of things differently. My schedule is a start time, and over 90% of my short stories are written complete from start to finish. For my Nano novel, it was one full scene at a sitting. I also set aside dedicated editing time to go over stories I'd written at least four months ago, assuming they did not sell or get published. I also have a tough time getting my brain back into a story in progress, so I've learned to just write it out.

Congrats on your recent 'best-of' anthology sales, by the by.
Jan. 27th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
What is your "nano novel"? That sounds interesting.
Jan. 27th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
Sheesh! "Nano" is the National Novel in a Month activity, isn't it? My brain wasn't functioning. I was imagining either a very small novel, or a novel composed of very small parts.

Edited at 2008-01-27 06:03 pm (UTC)
Jan. 27th, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC)
Hehe, since it's Sunday, I'll give a working teacher a break :)

But since you accidently asked, my Nano novel is a fantasy-genre piece called Webwood. Still editing it, and it needs another 30K words. Hopefully, it'll be my first pro novel.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )