I do the dishes on a semi-regular basis. There was nothing earth-shattering about that. It was the reason behind doing the dishes that was interesting.
You see, while I did the dishes, I was writing.
Don’t be an idiot, Bree. You weren’t writing. You were doing the dishes.
Let me explain further.
I spent half an hour this morning reading over six hundred words I wrote yesterday that just didn’t feel right.
The words were good, and the storyline made sense, and they would have fitted into the book, but they just Weren’t Right.
Eventually, I deleted them all, and started to think.
The reason the words Weren’t Right was that they didn’t come in on an action beat. That is, they were fluff. Filler. Cotton candy. You know when someone has something important to say, but then they talk about the weather and their fur babies and how stupid it is that people are complaining that the new Dr Who will be a woman?
You just want them to come to the point, already.
And that’s what I wasn’t doing. And I couldn’t see where the point was in my current story.
So, I did the dishes.
Doing something menial frees up your brain to wander.
I could have done the dishes, or folded the laundry, or taken a bag and cleaned up the dog poo from the yard. It didn’t matter what the action was. What was important was freeing up my mind to work on the puzzle.
And it worked!
I realized exactly where I needed to be in the story for greatest impact, and even wrote the first couple of sentences in my head.
Writing, as a job, isn’t always in front of the keyboard.
Much writing takes place in the author’s head. We follow storylines to their obvious (and sometimes painful) conclusions, decide which characters deserve to live and die, and devise torturous ways to kill them, we fight our natural inclinations and turn our characters into hateful assholes or clueless dickheads, we reach roadblocks and either climb over them or go another way (or climb over them and THEN go another way).
We spend a LOT of time ruminating.
Of course, the end result is a better story, and a more satisfying book for our readers.
So, if you’re panting for the next book in your favorite author’s series, and he posts on Instagram that he is mowing the lawn, don’t curse at him. If he says he’s playing with the baby, don’t grumble. If he says he’s spending a day at the local park, don’t complain. He is probably teasing out that knotty plot point that’s going to make you sit back in your chair, breathless, and say “That was AWESOME.”