In the imagined idyllic former days, writers would write – feverishly, secretly, devotedly – thinking of nothing but their work. Only when they finished after months or even years would they consider sending it out to an agent or publisher. Until that time they threw crumpled pages at the wall, drank too much, neglected their health, their friends and their families. But it was worth it because in this idyllic world they would send out manuscripts and receive letters back that they’re manuscripts had been accepted! Days later a box of their books would appear.
It only happened in the movies.
Right now – meaning this very moment in the middle of a pandemic when no one knows how any industry will come out at the end of it – there’s no need for that fevered pitch. You still need to give your work your full attention. You may still neglect health, family and friends – but honestly, there’s no rush.
Which is a good thing. You have the freedom to take your time.
You can wallow in your character’s misery a little longer; realize that good guy has some sinister layer you were in too much of hurry before to see. You have time to add descriptions that engage the reader’s senses. You have time to make the dialogue sparkle and eliminate all the small talk stuff people say to each other which becomes even more tedious when it’s down on the page.
You have time to see if your book makes sense. And most important, if it’s interesting.
With these long days that run into each other and endless weeks that never quite add up to what we used to call a month – you have time to sit down with your characters, with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and really get to know what makes them tick. Not just the side of themselves they showed you on that first draft, but what’s really driving them.
You have time to try different plot twists and change out the ending as many times as you need until it feels right.
In other words, in the middle of everything that’s going sideways, you have the time to enjoy writing.
I’m not saying it’s easy when there are so many worries and distractions and so many kids at home for what seems like forever. And spouses who want company. And somehow twice as much laundry to be done which makes no sense since no one is going anywhere. And trips to the market that feel a little risky.
But if you keep that drive to write, lose the sense of urgency, you might give yourself permission to enjoy the process. Room to roam a bit in your book. Stop thinking the book must be finished in time for – well does it really matter at the moment if it’s out in time for what may or not be the holiday rush?
People want to read even if they can’t seem to concentrate. There’s something about the promise of a new book that can brighten an otherwise dreary weekend.
So what I’m saying is – don’t stop. Don’t give up. Just don’t be in such a hurry that you take all the pleasure out of writing. It’s one of the few luxuries we have right now.
Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash
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