H.G. and Annie D. By Ann Haywood Leal
Annie Dillard says, “ . . . spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good … give it, give it all, give it now. Something more will arise for later, something better.” This wisdom has become one of my favorite recipes for writing.
I love this, because I am guilty of saving my writing. But really, for what am I saving it? A perfectly good idea can end up like back-of-the-refrigerator food--something that was perfectly good on Saturday, but ended up getting stashed away and wasted by next Friday. I have a million little notebooks—I always have one going, as do most of the writers I know. But if a good line comes to you—or a great character idea—or some fantastic setting details, find a way to put it in right now. Don’t let it disappear forever into the pages of your journal; get it down on a page of your book.
H.G. Wells had another great writing recipe. He said, “If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise; attack it at an hour when it isn’t expecting it.”
I am a big proponent of writing at the same time every day. It may just be a mind game that I play with myself, but I truly believe that my body and mind get used to this 5:00 a.m. time. The words automatically start trickling out after I’ve had my first few sips of coffee. The routine of it all works for me. However, we have all gotten to a point in our story where either we, or the story feels stagnant. So try again. Try it at 5:00 p.m., instead. If you are too tired at this time, because your first writing time of the day was at 5 a.m., go for a walk. Let the ideas start to flow. Do what makes your mind wander to your story. Walking, running, riding your bike, cooking, baking, knitting…be open to it, and your characters might just start talking to you.