I have been writing slowly recently.
A few years ago, when I was writing The Assalay Trilogy, I was faster. I worked pretty steadily at a rate of about 1000 words a day, five days a week. I haven’t achieved that since and I’ve been wondering why. Maybe it’s…
Genre? My last two books have been more or less contemporary realism, rather than fantasy. So I need to stop and check facts more often nowadays, rather than just letting my imagination – and words – run.
Sheer necessity? I had publisher’s deadlines for books 2 and 3 of the Trilogy. The only deadlines I have at the moment are the ones I set myself… and they tend to be a bit flexible.
Confidence, or lack of it? The Assalay Trilogy didn’t have a smooth ride… and starting again after that felt (and still sometimes feels) like a steep climb.
Or maybe it’s something else…
My children were still quite small when I was writing Assalay. School was about half a mile away. We walked there, and the walk home, on my own, became a time to day-dream the next passage, to work at niggly points, to be gifted flashes of inspiration. But now that the girls travel to school by themselves, my day begins with making a cup of tea, opening the laptop and starting to write.
Maybe the fact that I no longer start the morning with a walk is the critical difference?
A little internet searching produces pages of anecdotal and research evidence of the positive relationship between walking and writing. Wordsworth’s estimated to have notched up 180000 miles during his lifetime; Dickens would routinely walk journeys of 20 or 30 miles in a day. And many other writers have noted the creative benefits of writing, from Thoreau and Hemingway to Orson Scott Card and JK Rowling. It’s a truism that physical exercise benefits the brain (increases in heartbeat, blood flow, and oxygen) but walking seems to have a special connection with free, speculative and creative thought. It’s so utterly natural that we don’t have to give any thought to it: our minds are left totally free to float and wander. And I found fascinating the notion of a loop between the rhythms of speech in our heads, our emotional state and the changing pace of our feet: the way that walking can mirror our mood and thoughts.
So guess what September’s resolution is?
I’ll let you know how it went in October.
READ MORE AT:
Why Walking Helps Us Think (New Yorker)
The Slow Death of Purposeless Walking (BBC magazine)
Essays on Walking and Writing (grammar.about.com)