A reader responds to a recent post:
Don’t Write – the best tip that’s going round these days for inspiring authors. I agree with this advice for no other reason than it makes me feel better about my own writing. I completed a manuscript a little over a year ago and have been slowly refining it. I can go months without writing a single word and then suddenly out the blue I get inspired and write dialogue in my journal or an idea on a sticky pad. If I’m truly inspired I get out three to five pages worth of world building.
I do think about writing while washing dishes, taking a shower, folding the laundry.
When doing so I consider plot twist and turns, whether or not I should introduce a new character for the protagonist to contend with, or should I change the sex of a central character because it may work better with the overall theme of the story. Usually I don’t save my idea. I have to mull it all over for a while, taking the risk that I might forget.
Hayes’ guidance is liberating for a writer like me, where being a writer is more than actually writing. For me it is a process of thinking and then doing. Has it made me a better writer? I don’t know. I don’t write novels for a living so there’s not a way for me to measure if I am improving. In my current profession I do technical writing and follow this same process with few to no complaints. But until I’ve finished revising my manuscript and get published I won’t know if my style of writing makes me a good writer worth reading. I do know that if I’m successful my style will be the one to recommend. I’ll be sure to give a shout out to Bill Hayes.
Still to just “Don’t Write” instead of growing frustrated with forced and unforced breaks is good advice to take. Writers block can build inspiration and momentum to slog it out to the end. To feel good about my writing I have to spend time away from the keyboard and journal. I have to be curious about the things that are happening around me so that my stories are told authentically and with empathy for the characters I develop.
I’ll only add one thing to the Writing Tip: Don’t Write, Live.