Sunday, September 14, 2008

Write What’s Right...for Right Now

If you find yourself feeling blocked on a particular project, ask yourself whether what you’re writing is the right idea for you right now.

Perhaps it’s the right idea for someone else but not for you. Perhaps it will be the right idea for you at some future time. Or perhaps this project was right for you when you began it, but is no longer.

It’s possible that you’ve outgrown it. It’s also possible that you haven’t fully grown into it.

I was 100 pages into the first draft of The MoonQuest when I set it aside for what turned into a five-month hiatus.

The day I returned to the book, I was afraid to reread those 100 pages. I was afraid the manuscript wasn’t any good, and I was afraid I had outgrown it and would have to abandon it.

What I realized, once I began reading, was that I hadn’t been ready to continue with The MoonQuest and that’s why my Muse had cut me off when it did.

As it turned out, five months away from the book gave me the life experience I needed in order to be able to carry on. I began writing that same day and three months and 300 additional pages later, the first draft was done.

Sometimes, what seems a block is a matter of timing. Sometimes, it’s just not the right idea. When we drop a project or leave it incomplete, we don’t always know into which of those two categories it falls.

If your discernment tells you to let the project go, don’t mourn the perceived waste of time and energy. Trust that you will either return to it when the time is right or that you’ve gained all you needed from the experience and can now move on to other writing.

A wrong idea isn’t necessarily wrong for all time. But if it’s wrong for right now, let it go and free yourself to write what’s right. For you. Now.

Adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write. For excerpts from The Voice of the Muse book and CD, click here.

Photo: My daughter, Guinevere, in her MoonQuest t-shirt.


unwriter said...

you are so right about letting it sit. I ran out of ideas on Tea Leaves. Almost a year later I picked it up and this time I saw the whole thing. I finished the first draft in two weeks.

Never throw pieces away, just put them in a drawer. Your muse will tell you when it's right to go on with it.

Mark David Gerson said...

Truly, it's all about listening, trusting and discerning. Thanks, Ron.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post and observation, the "timing" thing. I tend to agree. I have three ms's I'm working on right now. Each one of them I've reached that dreaded "writers block" on at some point or another. I don't fight it anymore. If the writing is not inspired, I walk away from it for a while. Maybe the timing is right to work on one of the other two. Maybe I should just blog and network for a while. I also shared your experience of being afraid one time when I went back top re-read a ms that already had 45,000 words written that it might not be very good! Fortunalety I was pleasantly surprised. It's a good book in the making. And I had learned some neat new things about writing during the 3 months away from it that helped me write it even better.

As usual, I enjoyed your post today.

Marvin D Wilson
blogs at:
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Mark David Gerson said...

Having multiple projects to juggle is a great way to deal with the timing issue. Thanks for sharing your comment, Marvin.