Thursday, October 4, 2012

Coming Back to Writing

I wrote a story yesterday.

Not a big deal, certainly, but the feeling was wonderful. Why? Because I hadn't written anything for a few months.

Clarification: I hadn't written any fiction for a few months. I've written, of course. Blogs, emails, and my day job is as an editor, so I am constantly immersed in words, tinkering with sentences. But writing fiction is something else entirely. The other things can play into it, but there's nothing quite like writing fiction. That is what I love.

And I hadn't written any fiction in almost three months. I had good reasons, of course. Busy at work, health problems, and a new baby to add to my three other kids. Busy.

And I'm fine with such breaks. Some writers beat themselves up over these hiatuses. Must write! Must write! But I give myself permission, from time to time, to take a break. Sometimes life calls on you to focus on other things. Like, you know, living. And I think this permission makes it easier to come back to writing. I don't stress about it. Yes, sometimes it takes a bit of discipline to sit back down at the computer, to re-establish habits that have gotten soft and hazy.

But really, if you're a writer, you'll be callled back to the computer. A story will become real inside your head, the words itching at your skull, looking for cracks and crevices to escape through. Something will compel you to return.

And there's something delicious about coming back to writing. The fingers tapping the keys, the words flowing. And flow is just what it is, in the words of modern psychology. In sports it's called being in the zone. The rest of the world falls away. There's a pureness of focus, a sense of the words, the story, passing through you, rather than being created by you. This is where the idea of the muse comes from, this sense of flow, when everything inside you is running so smoothly that you forget these things are there and the words simply come.

I wrote a story yesterday.

Not a big thing, surely. But it is a good thing.


Susan Kaye Quinn said...

A very good thing. :)

I don't think I could last that long without writing, which is a funny thing to say, given that it's a relatively new obsession for me. It's not that I worry about not writing (although I sometimes do that too)- more that calling that you're talking about, always pulling me into it.

Bryan Russell said...

I've had longer! Sometimes life throws you curveballs. The stories will always suck me back in.

Matthew MacNish said...

Since I started writing novels, I've never taken three whole months off, but I do know what you mean, and I completely agree. I'm a slow writer as is. Generally it takes me about a year to write a whole manuscript.

D.G. Hudson said...

It is a good thing, Bryan. That contented feeling of coming back to the companionship of words (when they flow well).

I have taken a few weeks off writing but it usually makes me grumpy. I didn't write much when our kids were very young, but it was always there in the background.

PS - keep the cartoons coming, too.

J. B. Chicoine said...

I can sure relate to this--life does have a way of taking over. When you set your priorities and follow through, there is something "delicious" about the reward of coming back to our writing. I'm happy for your progress and hope you'll share the story. :)

Kai Strand said...

Congrats on the new baby and on the story. I'm a pretty organic writer myself, letting it flow when it wants and taking the time away when it becomes a chore or forced. However, I've been lucky not to have to write under a deadline. That would change things, wouldn't it?

Welcome back.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's good stuff, Bryan! I went over six months without writing any fiction, so I know the feeling.

Ted Cross said...

I give myself breaks from writing all the time, way too much actually. Life interferes, true, but I could squeeze in writing if I really wanted to. The truth is that I like to have all big stresses off my mind in order to write, so when anything is 'coming up', such as my trip to DC in a couple weeks, I shut off the writing until things settle down again. I've got to find a way to get past that hangup.

Marsha Sigman said...

It's one of the BEST things. Good for you!

Cheree Smith said...

I understand that feeling. I've also just started writing again after taking a break and it feels so good. Good for you!

Jessica Bell said...

Good on you! I know exactly how this feels. About three weeks ago I started writing a new novel after no writing anything new for almost NINE months. I think that break was a bit long, but I obviously needed it, because I don't feel like I'm struggling to push out words like I did nine months ago. Hope you keep it up!

R.S. Bohn said...

I also give myself permission to not write. These occasional periods feel like part of the ebb and flow of life itself, as long as one is conscious that it's just that, and not willful laziness (okay, that happens too, sometimes). It feels natural, like being in tune with your body.

Having said that, you don't stress? I will have those moments of panic -- I'm not writing! -- and then take a deep breath and move on. When the words are ready, they are usually magnificent (to me).

Lydia Kang said...

I'd say it was a very good, big thing. I'm biased, though. ;)

Mira said...

It's a very good thing. That's wonderful, Bryan.

And it's not just a good thing for you, but for those of us who will get to read it someday! :)

I love how accepting and permission giving this post is.

I also love the phrase:
'...there's something delicious about coming back to writing'. I felt that. :)

Btw, I have a wish. I wish you'd put up a 'subscribe by e-mail' link. I miss so many of your posts, because I forget to check your blog. But that's my wish, I understand if it's not yours. :)

Donna Hole said...

I haven't written much of anything except for blog post, book reviews, and blogfests for a while. It is a marvelous feeling to sit and let a story flow from start to finish.

Congrats on the new baby.


Mira said...

Hey, you did it! Thank you! Now, I'll never miss a Bryan post! :)