Fleshing out, resting up

Stephen King says that writers should take one day off every week. In my case, that translates to three days of writing, one day off, three more days of writing. It’s a nice way of dividing the writing week and, in theory, should be easier and more pleasant to manage than six straight days of writing with one day off at the end.

Only it hasn’t been working out that way for me. Over the past few weeks, I haven’t actually managed to take that day off from writing. It’s not that I’m super-creative or even terribly self-disciplined; somehow, I just always end up feeling like there’s stuff to scribble down that just can’t wait until tomorrow.

I’ve been feeling a little bit stumbly lately when it comes to my novel, and I think that there are two reasons for that: lack of flesh and lack of rest. On the one hand, I’ve been trying to make myself into someone who churns out lean, tightly plotted stories. This, alas, isn’t me, at least not in a first draft. And so my story feels a little hollow to me because all the fun extra stuff (the meandering thoughts, the memories, all the rest of it) just aren’t there. So I’ve decided to let myself go back a little and flesh things out a bit under the condition that it’s all new material and not any revising of existing scenes. On the other hand, I haven’t been giving myself that day of mental rest that I believe we all deserve. Lately my day job has been fairly stressful. You would think that I would be more diligent about giving myself a bit of time at home to just wind down, read, whatever, in order to let my brain cool off for a minute… but no, not so much.

Earlier this week, I tried to take the night off from writing. I started reading Anansi Boys and spent most of the night enjoying the story. The problem is, reading this made me realize that (duh) scenes don’t have to march out like obedient, single-minded little soldiers. They can meander a bit; I think that if they don’t, things tend to feel very skeletal. Skeletal—that’s how my novel seems at the moment. So I ended up giving myself permission to flesh things out a bit and so started the typing. Oh yeah, I’m typing again… more on that later.

So last night I did actually take the whole night off. Sort of. I wrote out a plot card for a scene I intend to write today. But that doesn’t count, does it?


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