And the problem is… writing thrills me.

by on Mar.19, 2014, under Process

I have a problem common to all working authors–finding time to write. Almost every established author will tell you to write every day. No matter how you feel, make time to write every day. I try to follow this advice, but I am struggling with it.

However the symptoms of my affliction are very different from most other authors I talk to. The problem isn’t that I can’t find the time, my problem is that I can’t stop. Writing thrills me too much to disengage…

First, let’s set aside some common misconceptions. Writing a story is not really a creative process in the “make from nothing sense”. I do that creation when I’m half-awake in the morning, or daydreaming in the daytime. Or sometimes based on emotional response to input in the walking day. This is for me an intense but unstructured experience.

Writing a story is using a structured skill of the brain to present the story for a reader. This is a skill, a trade you learn as a writer.

So when I sit down to write for an hour, I get sucked in. I get wrapped up in research details, the mechanisms of how the details affect the emotional story, and how to present all of this to the reader. The unstructured creative mind often wakes up and throws changes in, while the presentation mind evolves the structure to accommodate the new details.

Even if I am exhausted and stumbling when Scrivener opens, I quickly find myself wide awake, emotionally and physically engaged, endorphins flowing through me… until the clock tells me how many hours have passed, and how few remain before dawn.

My problem is not that I can’t make an hour every day. My problem is that my hour easily becomes six or seven hours and 5-12k words without warning. Five years of writing, dozens of stories and two published books and this patterns remains true every time.

I could set an alarm, but I love how I feel when writing. This is a joy I don’t want to stop; it’s too good. So instead of writing every day, I set aside a night or two every week to write. Nights where I can succumb to fantasy, escape to my dreams without a clock hanging over me.

Interesting side note: I experience very few differences when writing non-fiction technical books. I do not engage with characters in technical books, but my engagement and the endorphin flow remains identical.

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