by Pat Tabb
I once heard a writing instructor mention that writing is about fluency. And fluency finds its impetus in momentum. “The secret,” she said, “is to keep your work moving, even if you have to try something quirky to fool yourself into staying with it.”
This advice came to mind much later, when I switched from writing shorter works to middle-grade novels. As with any writing project, I began well. The keys just seemed to tap away for me. Then, somewhere in the long middle of it, I was in a writing rut. I needed to shake things up, “fool” myself into seeing it to its finish, but how?
A writer friend of mine mentioned that she changes location regularly to keep herself interested and involved in her projects. Really? I never considered that I had to move myself just to keep my story moving. In fact, I thought that my study, set up for writing, was the best place to stick to my routine. “Even if I can’t get out,” she said, “I’ll change rooms during the day.” Maybe she had a point. Was I slowing down from just staying in the same place too long?
I tried changing rooms, but I was still stuck. Then I picked up my writing and “took a hike.” A brief writing session at a Starbuck’s, where folks were obviously on the go, seemed to kick up the verve in my story. A quiet spot in the library where others were reading, studying, and writing, worked wonders. Encouraged by their industriousness, I set to work. Oddly, even while driving out and back, I found my mind clicking with scenes and dialogue. Any outing provided the impetus I needed, whether writing in a new spot or back at home, too. Who would have thought it? (Other writers, it seems; for example, Emily Bronte, who wandered the moors of Yorkshire and Joseph Addison, who trudged a footpath along the River Charwell in Oxford.) So now when I’m stuck, I change to another location to move the writing along.
How about you? What kind of writing atmosphere or location works best for you when you need writing momentum?