On Sunday, my husband said to me: “It’s supposed to be gorgeous at the beach tomorrow. Should I take a comp day and we go?”


I did not say yes to this question at first.

I need to work on my book, I thought. It’s the manuscript that is taking me a long time to write, much longer than I usually take, because it’s requiring some research and also because it’s different from any other book I’ve ever written.

I should work on my book
, I thought. Shouldn’t I?

And then I remembered that I made a promise to myself a couple of years ago. And that promise was that I would no longer skip out on life to write, when I had a choice. Sometimes deadlines don’t give us much, if any, choice. But I’m not on any kind of deadline with this book. In fact, for maybe the first time ever in my professional career, I’m purposefully writing a book slowly. I’m taking special care with it, because it feels very much like something that should not be hurried.

Looking back, there have been times in this writing career of mine when I refused to take a day off from writing while drafting a new story. It was like I had an extremely loud bug sitting on my shoulder, shouting in my ear: You must finish this book, you must finish this BOOK! Because, of course, every time I finish a book I am much, much closer to another sale.

There were times I would say no to invitations from friends in order to stay home and work on a draft. Times I didn’t go to the movies with my family in order to stay home and write. Times I took my computer along on vacation so I could write, early in the morning, before everyone else woke up.

What I know now that I didn’t know years ago is that time away from the page is just as important as time at the page. Some people call it “filling the well.” I like to call it feeding my soul. And writers shouldn’t feel guilty for doing it. I would argue breathing life into our stories happens because we are breathing life ourselves. So we went to the beach. I ate clam chowder, searched for shells as we walked along the shore, and basked in the glorious sun while reading a book. Soon the rain will come, I thought, as I looked up at the clear, blue sky. The perfect writing weather. As for yesterday, I did not add words to the page. But I did add joy to my heart. And writing with a joyful heart, I’m reminded today, is a really great way to write.
Posted by michael at 09:10 PM Link to this post
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