Winter writing retreat, day 5

Here I am blogging before I’m even finished writing, but today that’s because I’m enjoying a FULL day of writing and it’s not over yet. (My wife is entertaining company this evening, so I get to retreat to my study all night if I want to. Seriously: one of the most important things to any successful home writing retreat — to any writing life, really — is a supportive partner. And I’ve got one of the best.)

But since dinner is coming up soon and I’m getting ready to pause in the work anyway, I wanted to take a moment to share my day’s writing reminder. Yesterday, for people following along, I got the reminder that sometimes writing time doesn’t go according to plan, and that’s okay because the writing will always be there waiting. Today, I harkened back to an early problem I had with the Hagridden draft: STOP RESEARCHING!

I seriously blew two whole hours today checking maps and topography, reading about 19th century shotguns and the rank designations in cavalry units, watching videos of people firing muzzle-loading rifles and shooting bowling balls out of homemade cannons . . . which is when I realized I’d fallen into the Pit of Research (I had nearly two-dozen tabs open in my browser!) and hadn’t done any writing in hours.

This is my park -- I took this during my walk this afternoon, just before the sun set.
This is my park — I took this during my walk this afternoon, just before the sun set.

This was a common problem when I was drafting Hagridden, too, though because my resources then were a bit scarcer, I was more easily able to stay on track. Today, I actually had to leave the house and go for a walk through our big neighborhood park to clear my head and get unstuck from the mire of the Internet.

And it worked, because on that walk, I was able to mentally figure out all the rest of this chapter I’ve been working on, and I deepened some of the purpose motivating my characters, and I generally just rebooted and got myself back into writing mode.

Back in my study, I worked through a couple more pages and now I’m in the right place to carry me through the night.

So, daily writing tip: turn off the wifi, and, if necessary, talk a long walk in cool near-winter air. The Internet can be awfully friendly to a writer, but it’s like a boozy friend who drinks too much and forgets boundaries. Sometimes it gets too friendly, and that’s when you need to get some distance.

And now, dinner, and then back to work! (Sorry, Internet — I’m taking the phone off the hook after this. We’re still cool, but I need some space.)

Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

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