We talk a lot about the nuts and bolts of writing — goal, motivation and conflict; dialogue; scene setting and world building and even the use of the Oxford comma.
But there’s another side we don’t talk about so much. It’s the thing inside us that spurs us to put words on a page. You can call it a muse or even complain that the story (or characters) won’t let you alone until you write it.
What if that elusive “thing” sputters out and comes to a halt?
I experienced that this year. It started when Jim fell and I was spending all my time with him, trying to get him to eat, to walk. No time to write. After he passed on, it seemed as if I had all the time in the world, but I couldn’t get my mind to that place where I could let go of the immediate world and enter my make-believe one.
Yes, I edited and re-wrote my work in progress, which took most of the summer. But that was like tuning an engine. The basics were there.
Then I got an idea for a story. Not a deep, thought-provoking story, but a light read, something fun for me to write and I hoped fun for someone to read. I wrote an outline so I’d know where I was going and even scheduled events to occur according to a beat sheet. Yep, I was ready to go. I set a daily word count.
You know how that goes. Sometimes whole days slip away without your noticing and the words don’t get written. But I can say t
hat most days I did write my 1,000 words and some days double that. On a roll. I am now up to 13,000 words.
But now family problems are coming at me. Again. And again, I feel helpless to do anything but hope and pray.
I find writing now is an escape. While I can’t control what is going on in my life, I can control what is going on with my story. I can’t convince anyone in real life to do what I think they should do, but my characters happily oblige me. Instead of circumstances stifling my creativity, I am using my creativity to avoid, for a little while, my circumstances.
So that’s the other side of the story. People read to escape into a different world.
Sometimes we write for the same reason.