| David Gane

The Itch to Write

Last week, I attended my convocation ceremony. Yet, on Tuesday, after the family had left, I was back to the writing. The four days off (Friday was missed as well) left me itching to write. I had just completed the first draft of a short story on Thursday, and by Tuesday, I had a hint on what the new story would be.

This taught me two things. The first was that I had developed a consistent ritual and when the process was broken, it caused anxiety. It is no longer about forcing myself to write, but to do the work and discover my abilities as a writer. For a lot of people, including me, a lot of energy is wasted in the first part of that equation.

The second thing is that I no longer needed the excuse not to write, even when I barely had anything to work with. When I say that I had a hint on what I was writing, I was building off a personal experience, but not much more than that. I had in mind only two words, "alpaca" and "actress" (I know, it sounds fascinating!), to work with.

Yet, because I now rely on the slow bake method of writing, the story has time to grow and develop. I write for two hours, which is about my end point before I get zero return, and I move on to my stay-at-home dad duties. After lunch, I go for a walk with the dog, think about writing, renovations, and life, and find answers to my questions. I return to the work the next day and a wonderful thing happens. Every time I think I know what is going to happen, the story detours and evolves and grows. Again, I push the work to its end, then repeat the process. Rinse and repeat.

The process of tracking my words has fallen by the wayside, in favour of a different, lower-key approach. Word counts were a part of my old system, where there was a sense of three-act structure, shaped and developed in a linear fashion. Now, the story develops randomly, drawing from multiple sources, themes, and assumptions on what the story is about.

My process is evolving leading me to a new way of thinking about story.

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