Focus On This When Your Writing Life Feels Cramped, Musty, and Stale

Give yourself permission to go really deep into your story. Get wild. | lucyflint.com

Like I said in the introduction to this series, I nearly named this blog "Pursuing the Merry & Wild Writing Life." 

Merriment and wildness: Two things that I want TONS of in my writing life. For sure.

Last Thursday we talked about loving all of the writing process—especially the difficult, the challenging, the dreaded, and the ugly. That's gonna up the merriment factor for all of us!

So today, let's talk about the wildness.

One of my grandmothers had a much older half-sister, who was (apparently) very dramatic and theatrical.

Later in life, she also wrote a novel. Historical fiction.

According to one of her letters, she claimed that she researched it by going into the past and talking with people from that time period.

Whoa.

So maybe I'm distantly related to a pioneer of time travel.

Or, maybe she just tumbled so far and hard and fast through her imagination that she felt like she'd gone through time.

Wild.

And that kind of wild is what's on my mind lately, haunting me.

(Time travel would be cool too. But I think the boundless imagination thing is more within reach.)

Today all I want to do is sit here on my chair, and look out to you, and both drink our coffee, and talk about plunging deep, deep, deep into our stories.

Because that is what I am craving, my friends. 

Not steps, or plans, or lists.

Just getting absolutely lost inside my book. A free-fall into my story.

... How has your May been so far?

Over here it's been good, but crazy, especially in the "life and family circumstances" arena.

I'm not working with large patches of solitude anymore. No carefully structured work routines at the moment. 

Instead I'm retraining myself in the scrappier methods of writing.

Catching minutes with my butterfly net of words. Slipping off and sneaking in time. Turning my heart and brain toward my characters whenever possible.

I can't help thinking of this passage from Heather Sellers' Chapter After Chapter:

The book writers I know all live, eat, breathe, and sleep the book. Or . . . they're trying to get back to the place where they live, eat, breathe, and sleep the book. This complete absorption in the project is desirable, to be courted.

You're darn right, it's desirable!

I am thoroughly homesick for my story.

I've been outside of it for too long. Arranging life details, doing grown-up things. All of that is good and necessary and fine.

But I need to get back to that place. Where I'm absent-minded for the rest of the day, because one part of my brain is juggling the elements of the story, whispering to itself in the voices of my cast of characters.

I need to plunge back into my draft. Deep. So far in that I can't see the shore.

And when I'm out there in the riotous midst of the story, I need to remember how not to panic. Not to worry about what I don't know. Not trying to be efficient, of all things.

Instead, I want to wake up to the wildness. 

To let this story be real, and huge, and wonderful. My own story singing all around me in surround sound.

Know what I mean?

It's too easy, when life has been busy, to approach writing like it's just another task. Like any other desk job.

A way of pushing papers around, balancing columns of words, tallying paragraphs.

But we lionhearted writers can't settle for that.

We need to drive ourselves into the beating heart of the story, and write from there.

What does that look like for you? 

I'm ready to do something, anything, everything crazy.

Let's build ourselves a moat. Or fling ourselves into immersion camp

Let's go off on a little writing adventure, or maybe on a couple dozen! Or dive headlong into a pile of exciting writing prompts, and scribble at an exhilarating pace.

Heck, let's time travel and swap out realities, like my grandmother's sister. 

What can we do, to get back to the place where we live, breathe, eat, and sleep the book?

I don't see a clear path for doing this, except that one. 

You know the one.

The straightest straight line between myself and my work.

The road that connects you—with your amazing heart, your head full of words (even when it feels like it isn't!)—to your story.

Find that path.

And run down it, as fast and hard as your story-legs can pelt.

Let's throw ourselves into the wildness of the writing life.

Let's create worlds, twist plots, and set our character's hearts alight.

We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams. Arthur Lionheart, I mean, O'Shaughnessy