Living Inside a Book: or, Why I’m Not Making Dinner Plans with You

As an introverted writer, I admit that I can sometimes become a bit of a hermit.  This is especially true when I’m in the grip of a writing project.  Just ask my friends: I all but drop off the face of the earth.

The other week I read a post by Donald Miller called “The Truth You Don’t Want to Know About Writing a Book,” in which he put to words what I’ve so ineloquently been trying to explain to people for a couple years now.

Don writes:

You don’t come in and out of a book the way you can any other project. You’ve got to live inside a book, set up camp in the book, sleep inside it, go for walks inside it and you can’t under any circumstances come up for air otherwise you’ll have to go through the reentry process again.

crumplesThat is exactly how I feel.

I need a running start to find my writing rhythm.  Think of it like a plane’s runway, except that, with writing, it might take me a couple hours just to get to the part where I’m moving fast enough to fly.

It helps when I’m in a routine.  I find that if I’ve been writing every day for several weeks, it’s a lot easier for me to find my rhythm.  If I haven’t been writing consistently, finding the rhythm can sometimes take me a week.

If I spend two hours tapping into the magic, and then I have to pause for a coffee date with a friend, well, those two hours were basically a waste.  I’m going to have start at the end of the runway again after coffee.

This is why I’ve been known to take “vacations” by myself– to hole myself up in a house or a cabin or above someone’s garage and just write with no interruptions.  Is it lonely?  YES.  Those weeks alone are crazy-makers.  But they’re so, so good because I can just speed up once and fly for a week.

This blog post is dedicated to my friends and family who– while they may not understand my writing life– deeply respect it.  They allow me to slip into my solitary-mode, and they don’t make me feel guilty about it.  (Do you know what an incredible gift that is?  Thank you, thank you, friends.)  And they are always eager to get something on the calendar once I’m ready.

This writing life.  I tell ya.  It’s so different than I ever thought– it’s stranger and lonelier and lovelier than I could have dreamed.


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