Writing Rhythm

“Regular writing on a novel is absolutely essential. The plot and
characters may be well established in your mind. But it is a constant
battle to ensure that they are not swamped with other, personal
preoccupations.”
Joan Aiken, The Way to Write for Children

Over a decades-long career, Joan Aiken published more
than 100 works for both children and adults, including a beloved
children’s classic, “The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.”

I had the good fortune to come across an absolute gem of hers: a book
called, “The Way to Write for Children.” This 97-page guide is like a
master class in creative writing: it’s packed with incredibly helpful
and straight-arrow advice on plot design, pacing, voice, and character
development. It’s a goldmine, whatever the type of writing project
you’re working on.

One of the issues tackled is finding the time to write, especially in
the face of work and family demands. However difficult it is, Joan
says, you must find the time to work consistently. “Regularity is a
fundamental necessity of good writing…” she believes, and
“disciplined, regular output” — writing on a daily basis — is the key
to sustaining a strong, consistent style in any given project (and
especially when writing for children).

If you don’t work on a story steadily through writing, planning, and
thinking about it, then the “struggle” to re-immerse yourself can be
very challenging: “You may find that you have to waste days and days
getting back into the mood, picking up the thread, rediscovering the
voice. Pages and pages of writing may have to be discarded.”

Finding time may not be easy, but with effort and intention, says
Joan, it is possible to keep your story front and center, even while
in the midst of your day. She suggests that you take advantage of odd
moments here and there — waiting on a line or while cooking — “to
brood about the characters, attack problems, and find solutions.”
Agatha Christie once said, “The best time for planning a book is while
you’re doing the dishes.”

In my own experience, I’ve found that noodling problems around in a
relaxed way while I’m away from the page can be very productive.
Walking also works for me, so I’ll sometimes amble to the store or the
park and ponder plot points. To my mind, Joan’s key message is that
staying committed to our work and sustaining its momentum, no matter
what else is going on, is crucial to making real progress. Write on!

About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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