Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night (say 2AM for those of us who go to bed before 10PM), sat straight up in bed, and thought out an entire set of characters and a plot for a story that you’d never heard before? Did you then take that story and commit it to memory, think about it everyday, let it ruminate inside your mind, and then feel it slink down your blood stream from your brain into your fingers as you sat at a keyboard? Suddenly, you look at your screen, and there are words; there are names and a place, and smells, sights, memories, past, and present. People you’ve never met before appear out of thin air– speaking, acting, remembering, and engaging each other on the screen in front of you. Sometimes this out-of-mind experience takes moments, and other times, it will take years. Those of you who are reading this post and who have been through this process know that it eats away at your thoughts, provoking you to go to extreme measures to continue to satiate your hunger pains that tug on your stomach and mind constantly until it’s done. Your story does not let you sleep.
If you are reading this and are currently writing a story, do you talk to your characters? Do you sit there on the metro, or in your car and have full conversations with this people just to figure out what happens next? Have you ever emailed one of your characters? I have not done that yet, but I did hear from a writer who did. He recommended it. He told us that if you are having trouble deciding what your character is doing in a particular situation write him/her a note. You would be amazed to find out what they will say in response.
When you go for periods of time without adding to your story, do you get a nagging feeling that you aren’t doing something that you should be doing? I am in a bit of a rut with my current piece, and I’ve been neglectful, but everyday I go without working on it, something feels unfinished when I lay down to sleep. I feel as though I left the pie in the oven while going out for the night. The conscious feeling that I need to be doing something, mixed with the debilitating block that writers all too often experience.
While in the process of building your story, do you think about things you experience as elements you can incorporate into the story? I’m referring to that comment made by the man in line with you at the café during lunch, or the outfit that the lady walking in front of you is wearing so confidently. Is there a character in my story who would wear something like that? Does my character have that confident swagger? Your day is a scene.
When in the mode, do you eat too much; drink too much; exercise too much or too little; spend your days sitting down; neglect your animals and kids? Do you sleep with your computer tucked in tight next to you? Have you ever gone to an extreme measure in an otherwise normal day in order to successfully create something? I’m genuinely curious to hear other writers’ silliest writing stories.
All I know is that writing a novel is distracting. It is time-consuming, life-consuming, and distracting. But it is beautiful, and I, for one, couldn’t imagine living a life without constantly creating other worlds. It is powerful, magical, and damn distracting.