Learning Not to Hurry

Like most of our society today, I tend to hurry things. I don’t want to wait. I want to push ahead to the next thing. I have a hard time with stillness and rest. I want to work, to accomplish, to move forward.

This is not always a good thing for a writer.

Why? Because very often my first thoughts on a storyline, a scene, a setting, are the most prosaic. They are familiar. They are easy. They’re usually the ones that have been done before, even if not in the exact manner.

My editor has been teaching me to think beyond my first thoughts. To get to the unusual ideas. The ones that surprise. The ones that read fresh. The problem is that getting to those places takes time.

It’s not easy for me to sit back and ponder without guilt, to measure the quiet of those moments as work. Necessary work.  But I’m learning patience. And stillness. The importance of noodling an idea before throwing it down on the page. Who knows? One of these days that unhurriedness might even spill over into other areas of my life. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, either!

What about you? Do you tend to hurry, hurry, hurry or are you deliberately patient about your work?


Anonymous said...

Oh, this is SO true! I try to slow down and be more thoughtful, but when I get in the flow I usually just let the tap run and then go back later and try to dig deeper. Oh, those cliches!

Anne Mateer said...

And that's the whole point, isn't it? The digging deeper. At some point, even if we let those initial words flow, we have to ponder. Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone in this!

Marji Laine said...

I'm learning to be patient, to have some "unproductive" true quiet times. It's hard, though, because I feel like such a wastoid, but it takes that because otherwise I'm writing on the fly and my mind is flitting from one idea to the next and throwing in the trip to the library, the dry cleaning, and what I'm making for dinner!

Anne Mateer said...

I know, Marji. I'm always on the run with 5000 other things! That's why I'm trying to train myself to recognize thinking time as working time. But it's hard!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I'm learning to slow down. I write the rough fast. Super fast and the editing takes me a lot of time (probably due to the really fast first write).

I agree, themes and characters need to marinate. I love what comes of letting them steep for a while.

~ Wendy

Anne Mateer said...

Yes, Wendy. I work a lot like that, too. And that makes it hard when working on a deadline. That's why I'm trying to do more "steeping" at the front end to allay some of the stress on the back end. :)