I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize this, but I seem to be a very physical writer. When outlining, I’ve always spread the book in question out over a large surface area. Book Three of The Wolf Chronicles has now taken over an expanded dining room table, my walls, and the living room rug. It makes me surprisingly happy to see my book taking up this much space, to see it freed from the confines of paper and computer.
But I’ve discovered that I also have to move when I write. I have to pace while talking to myself. I have to feel space around me so that the story can expand and grow. I never really paid attention to this until yesterday. I had every intention of buckling down to write some chapters but couldn’t stop moving. The energy of the story wasn’t satisfied to be typed out or written. So I spent the day loping around my living room, then sitting on the file cabinet next to my second floor window watching people go by, then playing tug o’ war with the dog, then going into the kitchen to consider doing dishes. In between all of this, I scribbled notes on big pieces of paper and began making the connections between the themes and plot and character developments of the book.
And this part of writing felt like play, not work. It felt like a rebirth of the story and an infusion of energy.
Sometimes I try so hard to be “dutiful” and “disciplined” that I forget to play with the book. I forget that ideas need to be set free. They need to have work time, but they need recess, too. Otherwise, they’re like restless third-graders, trapped in their seats because class is in session but rebelliously ignoring the teacher. If they get to run around and play, they are much more likely to do good work later.
I wish I could say that the whole book came together in one day of motion, but it’s still a work of chaos. But I love this chaos. It’s one of my favorite parts of writing. I forget sometimes that I am not in control of everything when I’m writing. That the story has a life of its own and that the disorder of ideas is a vital part of finding an organic, truth-telling story. As the always-wise Elizabeth Stark reminded me the other day, it’s important to trust the storyteller. And if the storyteller wants to do jumping jacks while doing laps around the apartment, you have to let her.