Wednesday on Writing: Sometimes, It’s Good to Just Walk Away

Many people will give you the advice that you must write every day to be or become a writer. For the most part, that is very good advice, because if you don’t develop the habit of writing, you will never finish or even start anything. But is it really necessary to be sitting at your desk to fulfill that direction? I’m not sure.

I have been working on the third installment of my urban fantasy series, the Yo-Yo Files. The series as a whole borrows heavily from mythology and folklore for its base. I knew what the broad strokes of the story were, what folklore pieces I wanted to use, and how it involved my main characters. But as I got into the actual writing, I started to wrestle with fitting the folklore into the story structure. I didn’t want to give it up completely because I do like the idea. I spent a week or so trying to get the story started but not getting much more than a few hundred words a day written. It was frustrating.

Then, a few days ago, I decided to take some time away from the computer and take the dog for a walk. It was a pretty nice day and he loves to go out on a good sniff walk. So, we took our time, he got to poke his nose into piles of leaves and mulch, and I just followed along, watching birds in the trees and laughing at the silly dog when he’d jump when a branch would brush his hindquarters. I wasn’t thinking about the story or the problems with it. I was just enjoying some time outdoors. And then, something happened.

All of a sudden, I got exactly the idea I needed to put the scattered pieces of the story together. I knew how the folklore bits were going to be incorporated into this modern day fairytale of sorts. It wasn’t what I’d originally thought, but it would work much better than the original idea. I made a few quick notes on my phone. My memory is horrible and I knew by the time we got home, I’d have forgotten half of what I thought out. When I got home, I sat down and fleshed the bits of plot out in the story’s workbook so I would have a reference.

The thing is, I consider that walk to be writing work. Maybe not directly because I wasn’t adding to the word count of the story, but work indeed. Creativity is a funny thing. It often doesn’t like to be forced. When you sit and stare at your page, computer screen, canvas, lump of clay, or whatever your medium is, there are times your brain simply shuts down and refuses to provide any sort of creative activity.

Have you ever known someone who can’t do a perfectly ordinary thing that they are completely able to do when someone else is watching? Your brain acts like that sometimes. So, you need to sort of look the other way at times and let it work without you leaning over its shoulder.  Give it the room it needs to work without pressure. It will often thank you with just what you need to get moving again.

Do you have a way to disengage yourself from being stuck like this? Tell us what it is. Maybe we can all find a new strategy to get our brains to co-operate.


Do you like science fiction and fantasy? I would be very happy if you would check out my books and other stories. You can find more information about them all at the link below. Thank you!

My Writing