Writing is tough. Choosing the right subject, the right words, the right rhythm. So much more than simply dragging a pen across paper. Or typing on a keyboard. But, if writing is tough, for writers, not writing is tougher. Especially when we want to be writing. Well, I’m here to tell you scribes out there to relax and take heart: that part of writing actually is not writing.
Let me explain.
Just the other day, I sat at my desk, script open to the last scene I had written. And I stared at the screen. I reviewed what I’d done so far. I stared at the screen. I perused my notes of what was to come next. I stared at the screen. I tweaked some of the notes. I stared at the screen. I made coffee. I stared at the screen. I walked the dog. I stared at the screen. I had lunch. I stared at the screen. And so on.
By the end of the day, I had written not a single new word in the script. I used to get quite despondent about that. But time has taught me that such days are part of the process. Our brains often need time to sift through ideas—not just consciously, but unconsciously. I think doing other things energizes and refreshes us, clears away cobwebs, and lets ideas percolate and gel on their own accord.
The next day, I banged out ten pages with (relative) ease. I have no doubt that was a result of my efforts at the computer and my time away from it the previous day. That seemingly unproductive time was, in fact, very productive; it just didn’t manifest itself on the page until the following day.
Thus, I say to all my fellow wordsmiths, don’t despair the next time you’re sitting at your desk, unable to put words on the page. You don’t suck. You’re not suffering from writer’s block. Your brain is busy processing input in ways that will make a scene seem to magically pop out of your head in the very near future. And that’s gonna feel so good!
So, in the meantime, enjoy your coffee.
Walk the dog.
Love your life.