Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Days of rest

Days of rest are good for me on their own merits, a chance to breathe deeply and let the shoulders drop, a carved-out temporal space. But they're also good for me as a writer, because it gives me a chance to sit back and notice what my brain has been doing. This morning I had to make three sets of brief notes on What We Did to Save the Kingdom, because I noticed that the way I had been writing all week implied an entire other set of things (there are smugglers!). I put the notes into the appropriate file, I closed the file, I moved on. Another set of notes. And again. I may have more. But if I'd been prosing and prosing after the first set, I very well may not have noticed the second two coming on. For me, one of the things that's necessary to my good mental health as a writer is to give myself room not only to think but to notice what I've thought without other things piling in on it quite so fast. Space for quietness of brain.

I do this physically, too. I work out six days, most weeks. The seventh day, I rest and notice what my body is doing. How my lungs are breathing. How my muscles move and how they stay still. Balance and alignment. It's usually on this seventh day that I notice that I need to ease up or push harder on something, that I need to change the mix of what I'm doing that week, that I need more water or more breaks from the computer. And if I find I'm feeling fidgety, I'm still allowed to do whatever the body seems inclined towards that day, just as I'm allowed to scribble down snippets if they seem like they're important on my days off from writing. But I try to take the time to find out.

I think that one of the things about being an adult* is noticing one's characteristic errors and figuring out how to work around them. Are you generally early or late, or does it vary by circumstance, and if so, what circumstance? Are you generally repeating yourself or forgetting to tell people things? Are you generally an object in motion or an object at rest? I understand that for some people, taking the space to not work out, to not write, to not practice the piano, to not do whatever other thing they genuinely think is good and worth doing, means that they will be more likely not to pick it up again the next day. And so if they really do want to do something, they need to try as hard as they can to never stop. This is why they tell young writers, "You must write every day if you want to be a professional." Like nearly every other piece of writing advice, it's true for some people and not for everyone. Like nearly every other piece of writing advice, it's best thought of as something to try, not something that'll definitely work.

I'm writing this down because this is the way that's true for me, and I have run across other times when people had their eyes open to writing out of sequence, or to thinking in terms of relationships instead of individual character, or any of a number of other ways of constructing tribal lays.

*Being, not becoming. I don't think there is some magical year -- divisible by 10, no doubt -- after which you know all of the inner workings of your own brain perfectly and can just coast along through the rest of your life. I expect to sit up straight suddenly, one day when I'm 92, and say, "Oh! That's why I've always done such-and-such!" Adulthood is an ongoing process, or ought to be.
Tags: full of theories, stupid brain tricks, what we did
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