Friday, February 27, 2015

Write Advice: How to Write Something by Doing Nothing

There never seems to be enough time to perfect your manuscript. Even if you're hunched over it like some mad scientist in a laboratory, trying to bring it back to life, the more time you spend with it, the less you're able to see it. My mind becomes too cluttered by the story elements. I begin to doubt myself.

One thing I've found extremely helpful is stepping away from the book for awhile, trying to forget about it, and working on something else; short stories, another book. Whether it's a week or two, I don't go near the manuscript. During that time, my brain clears. I even have some eureka moments (which I write down without going near the manuscript.) I also try to immerse myself in the things that inspired the story in the first place, whether it's art, or a film, or another story, or music.

I consider this time off as a vital part of my editing process (and keeping my sanity), even though I don't do anything except occasionally think about the story. When I return to the manuscript, it's all new to me. I'm able to concentrate and edit cold. Thanks to that time away, I can find the story's weaknesses and concentrate on its strengths.

If you can take a week or two away from the dead thing you're trying to resurrect, you'll find that sometimes writing nothing is as important as writing something.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I could just leave my story alone for a bit, but I can't. But when I finish this third draft, I consider first draft a ZERO! I'll rest and let the book sit. I might even forget it for a few weeks! Great advice.