I’m always thinking about the pacing of the story. Am I moving too slow or too fast? Too much detail in the story slows the pacing—but too little and the reader can’t ‘see’ the scene. Action is great for speed, but too much can confuse. Dialogue can pick up the pace, but you can overdo even that if the dialogue is clunky or not really sharp. And what about characters—a cast of dozens can be difficult to manage and the reader may drop out of the story just because there’s no one person to follow.
It’s easy to tell when a story is sagging. I get bored writing it and my attention wanders.
But what about a sagging life? What about a pace that is too fast or too slow? For a writer, the pace of life is as important as the pace of writing.
The pace of life means you need enough time to let your mind wander. You need enough time that your life doesn’t feel like a confused mess. If there’s too much going on in your head, too many people around, too many demands, how can you expect your stories to have room to come out and breathe?
What can you do about life’s pace? More than you think.
- Take a breather. Go to the movies all on your own and make sure you have an hour after to sit in a park or a coffee shop and do nothing more than watch the world go by.
- Get up an hour (or so) early. Watch the sun come up in a peaceful, quite house.
- Send the family away for a few hours. Send them to the movies instead of you going. Use the time to take a bath or garden or just relax in the sun. Don’t even think of writing—just let your mind wander.
- Take a break in the afternoon. Walk outside and listen to birds.
- Use a sick day when you aren’t physical sick but you’re heading to mentally-not-really-with-it. This works, too, even if you’re self-employed. Use the day to stay in your sweats and do nothing more than hang out with your thoughts. Journal a little and make it a non-writing day.
- Do something you’ve been meaning to do for months! Take a horseback riding lesson. Buy a canvas, some paints and brushes. Sign up for that cooking class. Buy that language tape. Browse the bookstore. Just do one thing that you really, really, really have wanted to do.
- Spend an afternoon in a museum. They’re usually quiet, beautiful places and looking at art can make you think about your own art.
- Buy yourself some lovely flowers. Spend an hour arranging them.
- Go to the nearest park. Go in the late afternoon or evening and just watch the dogs run and the people hang out. Take a tall drink of something with you and don’t leave until the drink is done.
- Sit in a restaurant or a café with a glass of wine, a pen and a notebook and just jot down random thoughts, or doodle on the page.
The point of all of this is that sometimes you really have to look at life’s pace, not just the story’s pace. Sometimes it’s time to do nothing more than read a good book, instead of worrying so much about writing one.
So what is your favorite goofing off thing to do?
Shannon Donnelly’s writing has won numerous awards, including a RITA nomination for Best Regency, the Grand Prize in the “Minute Maid Sensational Romance Writer” contest, judged by Nora Roberts, RWA’s Golden Heart, and others. Her writing has repeatedly earned 4½ Star Top Pick reviews from Romantic Times magazine, as well as praise from Booklist and other reviewers, who note: “simply superb”…”wonderfully uplifting”….and “beautifully written.” She is also the author of the Mackenzie Solomon, Demon/Warders Urban Fantasy series, Burn Baby Burn and Riding in on a Burning Tire. She is currently working on her next Regency romance, Lady Chance.