Thursday, December 28, 2006

Getting back to writing

A line or two from Lynne

Given the unusual demands and unique rhythms of the holiday season, the subject of our posts this week has been taking time off from writing. If you define writing strictly as the number of words on a page, then I take a lot of time off from writing. When a broader more forgiving definition is used, then you could say like many writers, I'm writing all the time.

This holiday season, I've done some character sketching at a neighborhood party. I've stolen a wonderful line of dialogue from the sermon on Christmas Eve and placed in on page 176 of my manuscript. I even made note of an unusual facial expression I saw on Christmas morning when one of my family members feigned surprise over a not-so-surprising gift. Examining human behavior, storing up fine material, writing. Writers write all the time.

While the broad definition of writing is valuable, comforting and true, ultimately words on a page matters most. So, how do I get motivated to get back to the process of writing after taking any time large or small off from putting words on a page? My methods of getting back to writing may not be universal but they help me bring back into sharp focus my desire to capture character, setting and plot. Think of these ways in which I get back to writing as my New Year's gift to you. Here are some of the ways I get back to writing.

  • I pull out a beautiful journal and a good pen and jot down some interesting observations or conversations I've had over the past few days.
  • I set aside a half hour or more to read over the last few written pages of my work in progress, with no expectation I will write anything new.
  • I set aside some time to edit a portion of my work in progress; I choose an entry or chapter that's in good shape to spur me on.
  • I choose a writing prompt or exercise from one of many writing books or writers' websites then find a comfy corner and play with the words.
  • I love to research a particular character's job or illness or life struggle. Finding new ways of examining issues or describing behavior is a wonderful motivator for me.
  • I sneak away to a library or bookstore for time to write; stolen writing time often brings out the best in my writing--something to do with guilty pleasure.
  • I read my favorite authors' work. Submerging myself in beautiful language, savoring the turn of a phrase, imagining a specific setting, contemplating nuances in a relationship--these things always inspire me to try my own hand at it.
  • I look forward to writers' group. For as you know by now, my writers' group meetings are my touchstone for believing in the process of writing and my ability to be part of the literary life.

These are a few of the ways I try to reignite my fire to write. Feel free to share how you get back to writing.

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