Falling into Wonderland, abducted by aliens, entering a wormhole… so many fantastic explanations for losing time which are far more interesting than getting lost in your writing.
(Artwork by Su Blackwell, image from 123inspiration.com)
This past month has been consumed by writing. I fell down the rabbit hole and spent days on end in front of the computer screen tapping out chapter after chapter. It might sound great: a spurt of productivity and pages and pages of prose appearing out of nothing. But it does not come without a cost. You lose time.
I lost weeks somewhere amongst the compulsive typing. I forgot to eat: I’ll make some toast after this chapter… let me just finish this dialogue… and on it went. I lost touch with reality: forgetting to pay bills, or have a conversation with my housemates, go grocery shopping, house cleaning. Luckily I have great friends and family who understand that I occasionally drop off the radar and are content to wait, or pop over to pitch in to ensure I take a break.
I’m not sure if I intentionally created my busy streak – it has been six months of difficult firsts since Mum passed away. Recently I’ve had my birthday, her birthday and Mother’s Day alone. I pictured myself as a bag of nerves and sorrow, dramatically pouring out emotion on to the page to help me work through it all; sounds like such a romantic notion. In reality I simply went numb. Life was still for a while. I’m not saying this to illicit pity or comfort from anyone, but merely illustrating how at times as writers we put on blinkers so that all exists is the page in front of us.
Even at work, I would frequently pop in my ear buds (either with or without music) and block out any distractions to complete the task at hand. It’s that same single-mindedness that helps me push through pain, elevate my concentration and completely immerse myself in a book or movie.
It’s in this state I get out the bulk of my quality writing. Being in the moment. How many of us enter this fugue-like state when we are creating prose?
I’m usually such a control freak, planning and organising my day to complete a checklist – but I’ve learnt that there are times when you have to let go and just let things happen. Let the emotion flow, let inspiration strike. It has definitely made life more interesting and helped me accomplish things I never thought possible at first.
Nonetheless, I’m exiting the tunnel. Climbing back to the day to day, now left with plenty of editing and re-writing… and maybe a little outing or two to enjoy some sunshine!
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