December is a month when I slow down with my writing, and this year, it was much needed. After three surgeries within a month, ten weeks of therapy, and the release of seven books in the last six months, I was more than ready to put my feet up, grab a cup of coffee—or Jameson depending on the time of day—light that cigar and kick back. I’m pretty sure I deserved it. Besides, it was by doctor’s orders, so I had a legitimate excuse.
However, slowing down did not mean stopping, not by a long shot. While throughout the year I do quite a bit of research on both my stories as well as the craft of writing, December is when I buckle down on, not only extra reading, but daydreaming as well. When I’m out Christmas shopping, or standing on the side of the road waiting for the parade to come by, or even sitting in my car watching the crazed drivers cutting each other off, it’s my time to wonder what if. What if that homeless person is really an assassin waiting for his mark to drive by? What if that mother fighting over that unique toy pulls out a knife to make sure she wins her prize? What if those elves passing out candy during the parade are passing something else out instead, something that will turn those little tykes into demon spawn creatures who terrorize the city the next day? During the month of December, more than other months, I allow my mind to wander aimlessly, turning over plots and story ideas, as my hands are busy in some monotonous task, like stringing lights on a tree or wrapping a present, which may explain why my wrapping looks like the cat did it. Or I’ll sit in a coffee shop sipping that nectar of the gods and try to dream up stories of everyone I see at the other tables.
Most of these ideas will get filed away in My Big Book of Ideas for later use, but some I’ll start dabbling on right then because they’ve snagged my curiosity. The point, though, is not to fantasize about the stories I need to write to meet future deadlines, but to stir the imagination for a later date. To be honest, I already have enough ideas to keep me busy for the next fifteen years, but you see, that’s why I never suffer what others call writer’s block. My idea tank is full and my only problem is which story will I work on first.
I’ll let you in on a secret—I’m not a believer in writer’s block. I think writers get stuck because they ignored this vital task of refueling their creative tank. Part of the job of being a writer is to get lost in daydream, to spend time working through the next few scenes in your head when you’re away from the keyboard, to get lost in other story lines and plots. I tend to fall asleep playing out the next few chapters in my mind of whatever manuscript I’m working on during the day, and I tend to have a great morning at the keyboard the next day because of it. Furthermore, I tend to never run out of ideas, because I take the time to refuel my tank. The imagination is like a sponge; in order to squeeze something out of it, you must first allow it to soak up things. The problem some writers have is they fail to see how this is a major part of their craft. Unless they’re putting words on paper, pounding away at the keyboard, they don’t think they’re being productive. Yet, without this first step, the words come out like sludge, having to be dragged out of the writer.
I consider myself a fast writer, but I can only be that way because I take the time to refuel, which means it’s time for another cup of coffee and another cigar. This time, I think I’ll take it outside by the fire pit.
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Until next time, keep chasing your fantasies!