I’ve discovered my writing mind is never still. It’s either that or the characters and topics I write about live three dimensionally in my head. It gets crowded, so we get out and take a lot of walks. Or at least, this is how if feels.
I believe writers are undeniably always thinking.
Our minds are on the go even sitting still behind a desk. This makes perfect sense. It’s where we typically write and create. But, my mind rummages through ideas in a crowd, as well. As I shake the hand of a new acquaintance, I’m wondering about their personality meshing with a book character from my “work in progress.” How might my character interact with them if in the same situation? Now add the intensity spurring on the tension in the story? Then what? I can keep this train of thought going all night long.
Colors along the road catch my eye when I drive to work. I notice the difference between morning and afternoon light, how every detection of hue feels like a gift I need to write about in a poem. So, I snap pictures and tuck them away for later. My phone is full of photos; sunrises, sunsets, trees, leaves, flowers, pebbles arranged just so in the dirt. All of them special, important… for some day.
Reading is more than a relaxing pastime. I bathe in the teaching from other authors, soak in their decisions. Word choices either flow or stick in my throat. Character quirks remind me of someone I know or feel empty and flat. Whether I learn what to do or what not to do in my own writing, my mind ticks away taking mental notes.
My thoughts are always taking walks with a character or a topic for company. Always moving along a path, I leave no stone unturned. I peek behind tall firs and seek low under mushrooms. I look deeply into the petals of an abandoned dandelion. The golden essence more than a color in a crayon box, more than a weed in a garden. I peer through the forest’s edge on my dusk-time walks and wonder… what secrets it holds. What stories could be told if I walked through and listened well?
If you can’t get ahold of me, I’m most likely out on a walk… physically or mentally. Either way, there’s always something to process, and I’m never quite alone.
Writing Advice: When You’re Done…
I teach my young writers, “When you’re done, you’ve just begun.” It’s a saying that’s traveled through the Writing Workshop Model world. I learned it through Lucy Calkins’ Units of Writing curriculum. I’m not taking any credit for its flare, but, I use it all the time.
The idea of never being done can feel overwhelming… if you let it. For me, I hang out with my thoughts about a story long after I feel tentatively done. There are times, of course, when you’ve sent out that story to be queried or poem to be published, and you can’t do any more revisions (at the time). You might also get to a point of one hundred percent focus on a new project, thus letting go of other pieces for a time being. That’s needed, natural, and just fine to do.
Here’s my point: When you let yourself continue to flow in the direction of your work as a whole, new ideas and fresh thoughts can develop unexpectedly. For example, if you’ve published a book already, you might feel finished thinking about that story. But what if you though deeper about the characters in that completed version. What if one of those characters chose a different door in chapter twenty-seven? Who might he or she bump into? Could that character develop into a new story for you? Could that character’s traits be the perfect addition in another story you’re working on?
As you can see, “When you’re done, you’ve just begun,” surely takes on new meaning when you think of it this way.
Writer-friends, I spoke above about taking walks with story ideas. You should try some of these walks yourselves. Hang out and spend time with your writing thoughts, your ideas, your worries about story-direction. Let you’re mind wander in work undone, work completed, and everything in between. Leave no stone unturned, because you never know where inspiration waits.
By Celaine Charles, October 14, 2018
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/walk-in-rain-kovacs-anna-brigitta.html (feature art by kovacs anna brigitta)
https://businessesgrow.com/2014/01/07/how-to-write-a-book/ (heart in book page)
https://quotesgram.com/just-the-beginning-quotes/ (just the beginning hand)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/viktrav/17439481875 (dandelions and mushrooms)
http://www.picturequotes.com/always-working-quotes (always thinking)
https://blog.epa.gov/2015/07/17/smart-shots-how-to-take-great-nature-photos-with-your-cell-phone/ (cellphone taking pictures of nature)
Taking a walk – me (my dear friend’s cellphone) 😊
Categories: Thoughts on writing...
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