“Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.”
“What another would have done as well as you, do not do it. What another
would have said as well as you, do not say it. What another would have
written as well, do not write it. Be faithful to that which exists nowhere
but in yourself — and thus make yourself indispensable.”
Has this ever happened to you: Sometimes, no matter how carefully you’ve planned the latest stage of a writing project, a new idea crops up and suddenly, your day’s work goes off in a different direction? That’s exactly what happened to me today. I was all set to tackle a thorny section at the very end of my YA novel when I happened to pick up a short article I’d printed out about the hero’s journey based on Joseph Campbell’s book, Hero with a Thousand Faces.
In the article, there was a reference to a pivotal moment that’s important for the reader to experience emotionally along with the hero/heroine in a quest story. This really struck a chord with me and I began thinking about that moment in my story and how I could make it bigger and more exciting — and raise the stakes emotionally so that it would be more satisfying both for my little heroine and for readers as well.
The result? I threw my revision plan for the day overboard: Instead of rewriting a key section at the end of my novel, I went backwards and revisited an earlier part of my story. While this disrupted my forward momentum, something in that article rang true for me and triggered a realization about how to make my story better that demanded a response right away. Here’s what happened:
First, I decided not to panic about getting off track and taking myself someplace new for the day. Second, I gave myself permission to “just sit a while and think,” and started playing with a few ideas in my head. Third, out came a fresh pad and pencil, which always helps me think more clearly. Then, I just sat quietly again and let my mind range over the event that I wanted to re-envision. After a while some ideas about how it could unfold more dramatically started bubbling up. Pencil hit paper and a rough new sequence to part of my story emerged.
By the end of an hour or two of noodling all of this around, I had outlined a whole new approach and jotted down a page of notes for what promises to be a much bigger defining moment for my main character and my reader. I’m excited about this improvement and happy that I was open enough to spot a weak link in my story and come up with a way to make it stronger. All in all, it was a quietly satisfying day. Quiet time to sit and think. Sometimes that’s all we need to give ourselves, isn’t it? In these moments, magic happens. Are you giving yourself enough quiet time to reflect and re-envision? Write on.