In periods where the writing flows onto the page, it’s easy to continue for weeks on end with no real breaks. Then, it seems, my well runs dry. After about six weeks and 35,000 words on a rough draft, I felt empty. So I stopped, puttered, worked on articles, did research, read about medieval history, cooked and hiked. My mind drifted occasionally to the book writing, but for the most part remained quiet and empty – especially on the six hour hike up and down Val Osola at the foot of Monte Zucchero. With the waterfalls crashing, chamois lilting through the forest and the wild pink azaleas in full bloom, each step of the way filled with brilliant, clear light and the resolution to continue until we reached the refuge at 1480 meters (about 4,500 feet). Patches of snow and wild strawberries intermingled in this Alpine paradise. The mountain peaks perched majestically above and lured me to come back to conquer them soon.
In hiking, especially when the trail is long and rocky, each step requires concentration and focus. A misstep might mean a slip down a sheer cliff into the river. With the focus on one step at a time, little by little I arrived at the destination. This is the way of writing too. Planning to write a 70,000 word book may seem daunting at first, but by concentrating on the present and doing one step at a time, the pieces fit together into a whole work. But it demands regular practice, patience, solid structure combined with free flowing creativity, and good breaks that refill the well. Yesterday evening I printed out my work from last week and primed the pump for morning writing on the non-fiction book again. After a light breakfast of fruit, a cup of café d’orzo and some stretching, the stage is set and it’s time to write the final half of this draft – one keystroke at a time.
Copyright: Debra Moffitt, 2008 www.debramoffitt.com