What makes you stop writing?
Once in a while, I end a writing session because I reach the end, but most often I run out of time. Sometimes that’s a disappointment. Other times, it’s a relief. When I lose myself in the story, I take it as a good sign.
Shutting down my computer and walking away from my desk brings on a disoriented feeling. I have lived too long in my story and can’t seem to find my way out again. It’s as if I pass through a shadow land halfway between my story world and reality.
The emotions of the last scene tug at me. I chuckle in glee at a villain’s comeuppance or brush away a tear over a tragic death. If my heroine has been mischievous, I watch my sense of humor to avoid accidentally offending someone. If I’ve written a fight scene, I isolate myself for a while. Having forgotten my break to stretch my legs usually means I’m too stiff to pick a fight, anyway. I toddle off to fill the tub with hot water, the quickest way I know to ease cramped muscles.
Walking away from my story, even for a brief time, is an act of faith. I have no guarantee that the words will flow again or that I’ll be pulled to the story’s heart the next time I write. If you’ve ever been intimidated by your own writing, you know what I mean.
How can I ever do it again?
There are those, I have heard, who possess the self-discipline to stop in the middle of a sentence so they will know exactly what to write when they return. I admire them.
I am not among their number.
I rarely know what I’ll write next time, although I plot by the numbers and use a three-act plotting system. When I outline a scene, I only give myself a couple of sentences to go on. Much of the story lives in my head, and I trust it to work itself out. Often it does, but sometimes not.
It takes strength to walk away from a manuscript, considering that courage, faith, and self-discipline are the price of my return.
Tell me you’ve been here, too.