Writer's Life, Writing Tip

Author Essentials: Marinade & Naps

I fail at marinating. Perhaps part of my problem is that I can be bad at planning ahead—blame my type b personality for that one. I can balk at things like meal planning and question the benefit of marinating. It has become such a joke in my family that we have redefined marinade as the sauce that goes on immediately before the chicken hits the grill.

But marinating is an author essential.

I worked through developmental edits with an author recently. As he has been revising his first novel, he has realized that his joy for the story is lacking. He was excited to write the first draft, the second, the third, and to edit it multiple times. But right now, he’s struggling through the latest round of revisions.

My advice? Walk away, not from the story overall, but from this moment of trying too hard.

Sometimes we can so singularly focus on a project that we lose the spark, excitement, even perspective that is necessary to keep moving the story forward. Especially when we are on a deadline, progress becomes the priority. And creativity does not like to be bound by the need for progress.

You know those random moments of clarity that strike in the shower, when trying to fall asleep, or while driving down the road? Those moments can only come when we allow our subconscious time to work.

Sometimes when we are stuck, the solution isn’t to dig in and try harder. Instead, it’s to walk away. Focus elsewhere. Get some exercise. Or, my favorite, take a nap. Maybe the necessary time away is an hour, a day, a week, a month. Or maybe it’s even longer. Even if you’re on deadline (though hopefully not), time away to let the idea marinate could be the solution if you’re struggling. When you return to the project with fresh eyes, you might just have the perspective needed to keep going.

In a culture that believes busyness is a virtue, sometimes we creatives need to be counter-cultural for the sake of our craft. Sometimes we need to marinate our stories, giving them time to soak up the seasonings. When we return, hungry to dig back in, we might just find the layers and depth and richness that wouldn’t exist if we didn’t give ourselves time (and a few naps) in the process.

Are you a writer who is stuck and doesn’t know how to move forward? I can help! I offer story coaching to help stuck writers get unstuck. Click the button below to check out my Reedsy profile for more information.

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