The Long Pause of Writing

The mind of a writer
The mind of a writer

I’m currently headlong into writing the third book of The Quest Series (The Fallen Pharaoh) and I’m really enjoying the process. I have a great plot embedded in my imagination and it’s very difficult to focus on anything else. The words are flowing freely and I’m getting caught up in the excitement and pace of the story. The main characters (JJ, Linc and Rani) have become like family to me, and they have embarked on another fantastic time-travel adventure.  One thing I can definitely promise is that many of the settings in this book are truly unique and incredible.

One of the most intriguing parts of writing is the need to retreat into your mind, immerse yourself in the story and into the characters. There are so many thrilling action and adventure ideas churning around in my mind, I find myself constantly thinking and rethinking through a bazillion scenarios. I’m caught up in a continuous cycle of analysing the impact of each event I write about. To say I have voices in my head is an understatement. I think there’s actually a huge crowd in there, asking me all sorts of questions. How does that affect this book? How does that affect future books? Is that funny? Is that exciting? Does that fit with the books released so far? Is this consistent with what that character would do? Am I keeping to my overall plot? Am I going mad?

I’m not sure about other writers, but I find I that have such vivid visions of the story, that it’s like I’m describing something that is very real. There’s a movie in my head and I need to get it out of there!  Even when I’m not physically writing (like standing squashed in the train, skillfully driving my car, enjoying coffee and chocolate, spending time with my kids), I’m still running through all of the scenarios in my head. I find myself constantly inventing new and mysterious sub-plots, twists or witty events to balance the story.

When I see something that makes me laugh, or makes me squirm, or makes me think, or teaches me a lesson, I can’t help but find a way to work it into the story. I can clearly visualise all details of the settings, from the landscape, to the buildings, to the colors and the smells. I can feel the emotions and thoughts of the characters, and I know what each of them thinks about the others. I’m constantly researching and discovering a bunch of fascinating information, that I feel compelled to blend into the story.  Writing is constant and all-consuming.

So there I am, on the train, or sitting in my car at traffic lights, or wandering the mall, my heart beating fast as I’m trying to somehow save my characters from certain disaster (Ironically, a situation that I’ve actually created). Then I look around me and see the world rushing past in its frantic daily routine. Everyone is oblivious to the amazing adventure that I’m experiencing twenty-four hours a day.

To me, the best/worst part of writing is that I’m the only one in the world who is in that adventure. When I write a supremely witty comment from a character, or add some amazing event that I find clever or amusing, I’m the only me who knows about it. So I chuckle to myself, or pat myself on the back and try to think of something even better for the next page. There isn’t anyone I can look at to see their response. Those reactions from others have to wait until the book is finished and readers get a chance to dive into the story. It will be many months before my book reaches that point.

So let’s fast forward to release date.  It’s written and it’s published. Finally people buy it and read the story that I’ve conceived and written many months ago.  They read the book and hopefully relate to the characters, enjoy the adventures, get caught up in the mystery and have a good chuckle here and there. The worst thing is that I can never actually see those reactions, unless I can somehow embed a camera into the book. The only way I’ll know that the book has delivered what I hoped is if someone takes the time to write a review, or contacts me, or if I happen to overhear a comment. It’s a very long road from the birth of an idea in my head, that makes me chuckle, or my heart beat faster, or teaches something, to when it reaches a reader.  By that time I would have moved onto the next book to start the whole process again.

This period of time from idea to reader is what I call the ‘long pause of writing’.

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5 thoughts on “The Long Pause of Writing

  1. I loved this and relate to it completely … except that I don’t ride the trains these days. I just went through couple of days where I suddenly had to rework the ending of my second book in the series because it wasn’t working. I was frustrated and had to keep stopping because I was starting to panicl. I plowed through and when the light came, I started typing faster and faster, Now I keep stopping because the “movie playing in my head” is so real that I need to stop and gather myself from time to time. Are you ever afraid it you’ll love envisioning your story line and characters so much that you’ll never come out of it?

    1. I’ve been writing this series for a number of years, so they are part of my life. I do wonder how I will be able to switch off once I’ve completed the fifth book of the series. I often wonder how JK Rowling has felt since the she finished the Harry Potter series.

  2. Exactly, 100% agree with you that…”One of the most intriguing parts of writing is the need to retreat into your mind, immerse yourself in the story and into the characters….I find I that have such vivid visions of the story, that it’s like I’m describing something that is very real. There’s a movie in my head and I need to get it out of there! Even when I’m not physically writing (like standing squashed in the train, skillfully driving my car, enjoying coffee and chocolate, spending time with my kids), I’m still running through all of the scenarios in my head. I find myself constantly inventing new and mysterious sub-plots, twists or witty events to balance the story.”

    I’m gonna semi-quote you in a post about this topic, if that’s okay. This is a perfect description. I think maybe one challenge I have in my own writing is I tend to take for granted that a reader understands my meaning without me “spelling it out” completely. I catch myself leaving out detail and relying on a reader’s ability to read between the lines. Is that an unrealistic expectation?

    1. Honie, Of course you can semi-quote me (I’m flattered – blush)
      I think the level and type of detail depends on your writing style. Mine is very much about describing details to paint a picture. I feel like my writing needs to create the story and settings in the reader’s mind. Movies can show it, books need to trigger the imagination so the reader can see it.

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