Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Feeling the Flow

by Julie Coulter Bellon

I’ve been working on a new book and it just hasn’t been flowing for me the last few weeks. Every word seemed to have to be pulled from my toes and I was getting frustrated. That doesn’t usually happen to me very often and the joy of writing seemed to be gone. I had some deadlines coming up so that was putting even more pressure on and I was feeling it–going to the computer seemed to finally be "work."

After struggling for a few hours one afternoon, I stepped away from the computer desk and the pitifully low word count and started to prepare for my son’s birthday party. Within the hour, the guests had arrived and we went to the swimming pool first. I sat there, supervising the swimming children, but stewing about the story, and how it just didn’t seem to be coming together.

The nine year old boys kept me busy from that point on, however, and I didn’t have much time to think about anything else after that. We did all the usual birthday things, presents and games, cake and ice cream and just after I snapped a picture of my son blowing out his candles, it hit me.

There it was, as clear as day in my mind. The direction my story needed to go in and the next two chapters on how to get there. I couldn’t wait to finish serving the children their cake so I could run to the computer and write down everything that had just flashed through my mind. It amazed me that I hadn’t thought of it before, the sequence seemed so logical.

I went to the computer chair—a place that I had dreaded coming to for days—and sat down to write. The words flowed from my fingertips, effortlessly, the scene streaming onto the screen. I felt almost giddy with the thrill of it, the joy of writing that I’d had the privilege of feeling many times before. I thought I may have lost it in the shuffle of deadlines and edits, but there it was. The pure, unadulterated passion for a character and a story.

I got the two chapters written down before the last child had finished his cake and ice cream and I have to say I wore a smile on my face for the rest of the evening. I know there will have to be revisions, but the story seemed to finally have life breathed into it and that was enough for me.

Some may call that little flash I had the Writer’s Muse, others may call it inspiration, or perhaps my mind just needed to think of something else for a while before it could really "see" where I was going. It was interesting to me, however, when it came. I’ve had little flashes like that before, but at the oddest times, like after the cutting of a birthday cake, or first thing in the morning before I’m fully awake, or in the bath or on vacation playing mini-golf. I'm willing to bet other writers have this happen to them, so I'm curious---if you have had it happen to you, where were you when it did? Do you carry paper around with you just in case?

Inquiring minds want to know.


11 Comments:

At 6/28/2007 8:08 PM, Blogger Josi said...

Yeah, Julie! I'm so happy for you, it's an amazing thing when those words finally break free.

I'm in the middle of a moment like that with my current WIP. I've been toiling over this thing for months and shaking my head at the crap I would write, than finally over the last week and a half I've found my story. I've written 75 pages in a week (it took 8 months to get the first 150) and if I could freeze time for 24 hours (and not need food or sleep) I think I could finish it. Alas I'll have to stretch those 24 hours over the next couple of weeks, but it's there.

I'm thrilled for you and share you joy!

Oh, and I don't take notebooks with me, I just get to my computer as fast as possible, be that thirty seconds or two days. I haven't lost anything...I don't think

 
At 6/28/2007 11:01 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I find handling cake to be very inspirational too . . .

 
At 6/29/2007 12:22 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Hooray, Julie! I'm so glad to hear your story is flowing well. It is interesting how when you step away from a project, sometimes that's when an idea clicks.

 
At 6/29/2007 10:27 AM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Personally, I need long periods of time to write, because the first couple hours always suck. But if I work for six or eight hours straight, then things will start to come together nicely.

And, I need to write books quick, because if I have too much time to step back from it, then I lose the groove. My last three books have been written (real writing time, not planning and fiddling time) in about a month each.

Congrats on breaking through the block. That's always a big relief.

 
At 6/29/2007 10:49 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

I find leaving it alone for awhile is always therapeutic. I will go spend time with my family or on a hobby. Usually when I am doing something else creative, like quilting etc, that is when the ideas for the story flow. I'm glad you got the flow back. Can't wait till I can read your next book.

 
At 6/29/2007 11:59 AM, Anonymous Jennie said...

Writing is a funny beast/mistress. Sometimes all I have to do is sit at the computer and the ideas flow. Other times it is the break that does the trick. And sometimes I force myself to write and each word comes with agonizing slowness and I want to be anywhere, but at my computer. The funny thing is the miraculous flow, the sudden inspiration from a distance, and the slow plodding pay off about the same. Months later when I reread the finished manuscript I find passages from each that leave me amazed and I think "I wrote that?" and I find other passages that make me want to crawl under my desk, cry, and wonder whatever made me think I could write.

 
At 6/29/2007 4:24 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Those "flashes" have come to me in the car, while blow drying my hair, in the shower, on the porch swing, making dinner, folding laundry, picking weeds, knitting, and doing a hundred other mundane things. My theory is that it's the somewhat brainless activities when your creative side can kick into gear and use the energy for its own purposes. Sometimes we need to take a break and not force it.

Hurray for your muse!

 
At 6/29/2007 5:04 PM, Anonymous Marlene said...

Now and then I can't find the right word. I can remember its meaning, its sound, even the first letter, but the word just evades me. When I mentioned it to the a neurologist he said just to go on, that those things generally come when you're not trying to remember. I think its probably the same with blocking. Of course there are the times when I'm just not excited about the section I'm trying to write so I go to another section and reread to see why I'm not likeing what I'm doing when I go back. It's worked so far...although I must say I've never written a book in a month. Maybe I always have writer's block and just never knew it!

 
At 6/30/2007 8:37 AM, Blogger Karlene said...

Here's a tip to start the creativity flowing. Since creativity occurs on the right side of your brain, and the right side of your brain controls the left side of your body, plug up your right nostril and breathe through your left one for about 15 minutes to get the creativity flowing.

I'm not sure if it's the actual breathing that sparks the creativity, or the wondering what other people are thinking about you while you're doing it...

 
At 6/30/2007 12:54 PM, Anonymous Jennie said...

Karlene, I love it! Next time I have a brain freeze, I'll give your solution a try and either get back to work or die laughing.

 
At 7/01/2007 4:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was having problems similar to yours once in a big way. I knew where the story was going but I had no idea how to get there. I struggled for a week and went to church. it was fast sunday and I listened to a testimony. suddenly, I had the solution. It had nothing to do with the testimony but I had my answer.
I also caught a spark of enlightenment once when a whole story from start to finish came to mind. I wrote it all the way through and now I'm editing it.
I ussually find solutions in odd places.
I know I'm not alone, thanks for the validation.
Keith Fisher

Keith Fisher

 

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