Monday, October 19, 2009

What I Learned From My Writing Residency

First, the week affirmed how much I love writing. Since childhood, writing has filled a need in me that nothing else does. This is indeed what I want to do during these retirement years, whether or not my writing results in publication.

Writing a novel demands an incredible amount of time. I knew that, of course, but I have a new appreciation of this truth. My writing residency offered the best possible circumstances for writing, as I could escape the normal distractions of my life. Still, progress was agonizingly slow, even though I remained focused and worked hard.

I have never been a disciplined writer with a solid routine. Now that I have a better idea about the kind of time commitment writing this novel will require, I know I must make it a priority if I ever want to finish. Otherwise, I might as well abandon it now and take up playing golf instead.

Each day as I resumed writing, I saw the advantage of returning to my novel within a short time. It’s much easier to stay inside your story than to have to re-enter it each time. This is another reason for self-discipline; writing is more efficient this way. Since I know I am a slow writer, efficiency is imperative.

I realized that I may be writing a novel that is beyond my present skill level. All along, I have thought of this book as Justin’s story, told from three different points of view. But now I see that Margaret and Lauren have their own stories as well. Each story needs a climax and resolution, and all three stories need to come together to create a whole. This task is far more daunting than simply writing one character’s linear story.

Finally, I learned something about balance. At Heartland, I used my intellectual abilities as I wrote and as I discussed literature and the writing process. Doing something I felt passionate about satisfied my emotions. I loved being outside on gorgeous October days, surrounded by beauty. Walking nature trails and a labyrinth fed my spirit. I ate healthy food in reasonable amounts, and I exercised every day, which made me feel great physically. I enjoyed socializing with interesting people. I had fun, and I laughed. All of these things made me aware of how much happier I could be if I worked to achieve more balance in my life.

My writing residency week was an amazing experience. Now I must remember what I learned as I continue my journey.

1 comment:

Susan York Meyers said...

Jeannie, it sounds wonderful. I'm glad you found yourself filled with what you love to do.:-) Sometimes we need to remember the passion, the writing because we love to write, don't we?

God Bless,