This week, I did no writing or editing on my novel. I was asked to review a book (see the category ‘Wreviews’ for the result), and spent the week reading the book and working on the copy for the review. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
So, I did write every day this week. That’s a good thing. Unfortunately, because none of that writing moved my novel closer to completion, it kinda feels like I did nothing to further my weekly writing goal. Insert sad face…here.
I’m not going to beat myself up or bemoan the fact that I didn’t once look at the draft, because that would do nothing positive for me or the book. Instead, I’m going to remember that sometimes the process of writing involves NOT writing. That’s a good thing, too.
All this week, while I was working on the book review, my plot didn’t move, and my characters were silent on the page. Denny Paulsen just left the Bramblewood Estate and now needs to meet with his friend and former cop Walter Reilly. I have to get him there. I’m off writing a review, and Denny’s stuck in his car, getting on the road to the next chapter.
All that lack of progress doesn’t mean there wasn’t any progress. All the while, my mind was still working on the novel, whether or not that work appeared on the page.
When you’re in the midst of a project but not actively working on it, the work continues. I call it simmering. When you’re cooking a stew, or a savory, just-enough-heat-but-not-so-hot-it-makes-you-run-for-a-drink pot of chili, it needs to simmer. As it slowly cooks, the flavors meld into something more than the separate ingredients in the pot. The same is true with writing. Your mind is constantly stirring the story and analyzing the taste of the plot. It’s lifting the lid, taking a sniff, and seeking to organize and make sense of what’s already in the kettle.
I love that I can write while not writing. I recently saw a picture of someone laying on a couch, a book covering the face. The caption, “Shh…writer at work.” That’s what I feel like this week…like my novel is taking a nap. When I wake it up by getting back to its pages, it will stretch, yawn, and feel refreshed. And I know that my writing will be refreshed too.
While I’ve been writing by not writing, I may have discovered a new character while wandering around the mall, or perhaps I will have realized Denny needs to do something else before going to visit Walter’s house. Maybe when I get back to my draft, the plot will have a new twist, or I will have decided that the investigation will need to lead Denny to another suspect. Whatever happened to my novel as it simmered in my head, I’ll find out when I get back to the page. I hope it will be tastier and more flavorful. It usually is. But right now is not the time to lift the lid. Right now, I have writing to do.
I think I’ll take a nap.