“What are you doing?”
This is an important question; one Beloved Spouse will at times pose to me, usually when she catches me staring off into space, apparently doing nothing. Sometimes, rarely, my answer is “Nothing” or perhaps “Wool gathering,” in which case she is totally within her rights to poke me into doing something useful, like say take out the trash.
But usually when she asks what I’m doing, and blink and give her a quick “Writing” or “Working” and get back to staring at nothing in particular.
Now, obviously I am not physically writing at these times. Physically, I am sitting in a chair, moving very little. But in my head, I’m writing, working, thinking about my current work-in-progress, considering story, characters, themes, and tone. I might be rehearsing a scene in my mind or untangling a snarl in the plot or prose. I am thinking about the work, planning, considering. My body is still, my eyes might even be a glazed, as if I’d had about 5 too many, but the brain is working furiously.
I’m lucky that I have an understanding spouse. If I say I’m writing or working, she leaves me alone to mull over whatever bit of story I’m dealing with. She doesn’t assume I’m doing nothing. She asks, and respects that at times I need to be quiet and let my imagination run.
On the other hand, I must always be honest with her when she asks what I’m doing. I can’t and won’t use writing as an excuse to just sit and do nothing. I can’t because it’s just not in my nature and I won’t because I refuse to break the trust Beloved Spouse places in me and my process. I need that time to sit and think, and she gives it to me without complaint. I have to respect that.
Sitting and thinking–mulling over all the bits and pieces–is an important part of my writing process. I need this time to look out a window and think about what I am working on, to deal with knots and trouble, to find the right path of the story, to let the imagination play unfettered and ablaze as the body dwells in stillness. Writing isn’t always about fingers furiously flying over a keyboard, or pouring over books and websites researching, sometimes it is about finding quiet and processing.
Though it is important to make sure the garbage gets taken out, because after a few days it will start to stink. Remember that as well.