Let It Rest

You take the steak off the grill. Oh, can you smell that? The char entices, and you know it’s the perfect doneness.

But don’t cut into it! Not yet! You need to let it rest.

Resting meat is absolutely necessary. Cut into that delicious meal too soon, and all the juices will run out. All your work will be reduced from sublime to… passable? Maybe?

Last week I wrote that I’d completed the rough draft for a new novel. My rough drafts always need a major revision. I need to tighten up scenes, themes, all sorts of things. (I also think one of the minor dragon characters may have changed gender halfway through the novel… I should probably check on that, unless I feel like introducing a wrinkle into dragon physiology.)

So why not just dive into it right away?

Because when you create something, you need to let it rest.

You need to approach your creation with fresh eyes. Does this scene work? What about this character arc? If you come too soon, you’ll be too close to catch many of the issues. Some will certainly be apparent, but others simply won’t be.

I do the same thing with short stories. I’ll complete a draft, and rather than going through it again immediately, I’ll set it aside for a day or two. I need to! But a novel is a longer, more involving beast, so it needs longer to rest.

Of course, letting a novel rest doesn’t mean the writer should do nothing. I’ve been cleaning up some short stories and figuring out my writing schedule for the summer. By concentrating on other stories, I’m forcing my mind to step aside from the novel for a bit.

I’m hoping to start in on the revision next week, but we’ll see. I may wait another week before tackling it. Either way, it’s rested.

And soon… soon I’ll be able to dig in!

Giving Up

What are your priorities?

I’ve got about sixty-seven things that come to the top of my list. I’ve got spending time in the Bible, spending time with my family, making waffles, serving my congregation (especially since I’m a pastor!), reading, keeping on top of my weekly comics purchases, writing, professional growth, making sure the house doesn’t burn down, summoning an ancient alien entity to run a restaurant…

One of those might be fake.

When you’re young, you think you can do all of that. At least I did. I’ve learned, though, that it’s just not going to happen. Wednesday a friend recommended a book I should read. I believe him when he says I’d enjoy it. I just can’t read everything that everyone recommends, though. Not if I’m going to keep on top of my other priorities.

Some things are non-negotiable. Spending time with God and with my family can’t change.

Others change with the seasons. Serving my congregation as a pastor can take a lot of time or a lot more time.

Continue reading “Giving Up”

The Writing Environment

Businesses pay a lot of money to figure out the best way to help their employees be productive. What works best? Lots of open space? What kind of lighting? Should we turn on background music, or does that present a safety risk? A better work environment leads to better work, and for a business, that often leads to better profit.

If writing is work, then your writing environment is just as important as your work environment. And if that environment helps you be more productive, then in theory, that can lead to profit if you’re trying to sell your stories.

Now, here’s the thing: my ideal writing environment may not be the same as your writing environment. And what worked for you a year ago may no longer function as well any more. People change, so it could be good for you to change up your environment every once in a while to experiment.

What are some things to think about?

Continue reading “The Writing Environment”

I’ve heard it all before.

Sometimes I feel this way when it comes to writing. I’ll sit down at the keyboard… and everything is just so derivative. Like, this is just Hamlet with lions. That’ll never sell.

Oh, wait. That’s Lion King.

See, so often writers can get hung up on originality. And it’s true; you don’t want to copy other people. At the same time, a smart guy once said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” So let me give you a little writing tip, free from me:

Be less concerned with writing an original story. Be more concerned with writing a story in an original way. Continue reading “I’ve heard it all before.”

No More Pants!

I might be getting rid of my pants.

Maybe an explanation is in order.

Pantsing” is what you call it when an author “flies by the seat of their pants.” Basically, the author sits down and starts writing, and they’re as surprised as anyone else by what happens. In general, I’ve been a pantser. Even if I have a general idea of where a story will go, I have no idea how we’re going to get there. I discover the characters as they reveal themselves.

It’s a very organic process. I’ve become very comfortable with it, to the point of bristling a bit when someone suggests I outline ahead of time. And trust me, there’s nothing quite so unpalatable as a bristling pantser!

But then… I finished this revision of the novel I’ve been tinkering with. Continue reading “No More Pants!”