Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Behind the Books: The Moment of Rest

Recently, I was cleaning out my files and found an article I had ripped out of the November 2015 issue of Delta Sky magazine. It was an interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the hit Broadway show “Hamilton,” and I had underlined this quotation:

“. . . a good idea doesn’t come while you’re doing a million things. The good idea comes in the moment of rest. It comes in the shower. It comes when you’re doodling or playing trains with your son. It’s when your mind is on other things.”

I couldn’t agree more. Over the years, I’ve learned that when I’m struggling with a manuscript, the best thing I can do is switch to a different project. (That’s the only antidote for writer’s block.)

I know from experience that a solution will come in its own time. All I have to do is
(1) be patient
(2) be ready

Because most of the time, the solution pops into my mind when I least expect it—while taking a walk, while driving, while drifting off to sleep, or, as Miranda says, while taking a shower.

Why do solutions come at such inopportune times? Because some part of my brain works on the problem while I continue on with my life and, eventually, it comes up with an idea. But that idea can only enter my conscience mind in those rare moments when I allow my thoughts to roam freely.

And when that moment comes and the solution pushes its way through, I have to record it before it floats away.

That means interrupting my walk and hurrying home, pulling the car to the side of the road, getting up out of a warm, cozy bed, and hopping out of the shower—naked and soaking wet—and dashing to the nearest notebook.

Kids are no different than me, which is why I think young writers should have a folder with several pieces of writing. On any given day, they should be able to choose which piece to work on. And as I’ve discussed before on this blog, all writers should let their rough drafts “chill out” before they dive into revisions.

Thinking is a critically important part of writing, and deep thinking takes time and a healthy respect for moments of rest.

1 comment:

  1. This is such wonderful advice, Melissa. I've started recording in my journal when my breakthroughs come. As you suggested, they are typically during a walk or during a yoga class. And yes, I've had that shower moment too! I agree that we need to convey this to young writers too. There's nothing worse than forcing a piece of writing when it's not working.