Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #134

Guest blogger Jessica Keener on her magical Drawer.

As much as I’ve resisted this strategy, I’ve come to respect the magic that comes with putting my work back in The Drawer. The Drawer, it turns out, has become an essential part of my writing life cycle. When I utilize The Drawer, wonderful things happen.

My writing life cycle goes something like this: First there’s the excitement of working on something new, ideas are flowing, etc. At some point, though, ideas begin to bog down, problems with scenes and plot points and characters emerge and clog up the pages. I struggle to clear log jams, to solve puzzles, but at some point I may lose my way or grow confused. That’s fine. I tell myself to keep struggling away. That’s part of my writing cycle. Eventually, I will bear down so hard on the work it begins to feel as if it’s evaporating. It’s disappearing. I've lost it. I’ve failed. That’s when it’s time to put my work in The Drawer.

The Drawer is a dark, quiet place. I think of it as a proofing place—bread rising, baby sleeping in crib. My work gets to rest and do some unconscious thinking there. It may sleep and dream. It may stretch out and grow. Once my work goes into The Drawer, I’ll distract myself by starting on something new or I might find there’s another work waiting to come out of The Drawer. (Disclosure: some of my work has been in The Drawer for years, some for just a few days.)

Here’s where the magic happens. Work lifted from The Drawer looks different. I can read it as if someone else wrote it and that’s when I become an efficient editor and writer. I can cut, add, rearrange sentences without emotional duress. It’s cleansing. Things move forward with clarity. The work improves substantially. Often, this is when I am able to finish the work. If synchronicity happens, I’ll send it out, and the work will get published. So, my writing tip is to encourage writers to embrace the creative and transformational power of The Drawer. It’s real.

Jessica’s website is www.jessicakeener.com and her novel, NIGHT SWIM, is coming out from Fiction Studio Books http://fictionstudiobooks.com/Fiction_Studio_Books/Home.html

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