Last week I wrote for over twelve hours in one day. I took breaks. I ate, I walked the dogs and did those things a few more times, but that was all. I rewrote the entire text of chapter 35 in one sitting. It is a long chapter and I thought I would be bogged down in it for at least a week, maybe two or more.
Since I have been trapped in the net of editing for going on two years, I haven’t written much that is new. A few articles, some newsletters and this blog, but that’s about it. I purposely set myself up this year not to write anything new, but to throw myself completely and wholly behind my manuscript, right into my manuscript, in the hopes that this tactic would hasten its completion. The method is working, but at the expense of other things, one of those things is days like that twelve-hour day.
I didn’t plan to write that long. I aim for a minimum of four hours in a sitting, sometimes I go longer, sometimes shorter. I kept going because I hit it, that magical place, that shifted sense of consciousness where the words just fall out of you, no thinking or planning, no twisting, dragging, begging, compromising, just a smooth uninterrupted flow of words, beautiful words, perfect words that come from somewhere else, from an altered brain.
Writing in this way, this state of mind is being intoxicated. It is not like being intoxicated, it is the same. You are drugged, you are high, you are some other version of yourself. Everything around you looks foggy, not quite real, not quite there. The door to the office is shut, the phone is gone. You have partially left this world or dragged a piece of another into yours, I don’t know which, and it doesn’t matter. If you eat at all, it is at your desk, quickly, angrily, annoyed to be reminded that there are other concerns in the day. You walk the dogs fast, hastening them along, irritable, wanting to sink back into your cozy cocoon, the swirling ideas, the fanciful notions so sweetly laid out for you before they dissipate.
Bedtime comes too quickly and passes, barely noticed. Minutes become hours in a blink. Part of you thinks you could keep going, could go all night long, finish not only this chapter, but the next, maybe the entire thing. Your body gives way. There is an ache in the back of your neck, your eyes are bleary, gritty from staring at a screen for hour after merciless hour. Sometime, long after dark, hours after you should have gone to bed, you make the final save of the night. Now you have been at this so long, so completely, that you don’t even know if what you worked so hard on is even any good or not. The file saves in several locations. You drag yourself to bed. Out of the white glowing light of the monitor, beyond the sweet foggy cloud of your project, weariness hits you, hard. Your body is sore, your mind is spent and your poor eyes have been punished. You feel exhilarated, exhausted and apprehensive. What if it wasn’t any good? You drift off to sleep, it is deep and filled with wild dreams. In the morning when you read it again, you will know.
I write for days like that.
- Five Tips for Painless* Self-Editing (robert-edits.com)
- “Are You Neglecting Your Manuscript?” by Stefan Vucak (authorshelpingauthors.wordpress.com)
- Self-Editing Tips From an Editor (kisawhipkey.com)