Keeping the Space (the headspace)

Much as I try to work on my novel consistently, uni and life keep throwing tasks and challenges in my path to distract me.

I’m writing my Y/A historical novel in a very definite voice and often fear I’ll lose it if I have too much time away; or, worse, disconnect from my characters. It takes a heap of time then trying to reconnect into the story. Deterrents enough today to put me off starting.

I’m banging my head wondering, how did I do it last year when I had many occasions when I simply couldn’t get to the keyboard to write and yet every time I sat down, the words still flowed?

 Aha. I remember. I stayed in the zone. Kept my head in the story.

I visited my story space every day – often several times. I talked to my characters. And more important got them talking to each other, and kept them talking, sometimes yelling. Okay, sometimes they weren’t even on speaking terms, but they were always interacting in some way.

Makes me sound kind-of nuts when I write it down.

I’d lie in bed, or stand under the shower, and let the last scene I’d written play out like a movie in my head, and then let that scene flow on into the next – and watch it develop. Sometimes the freedom to daydream allowed it to take off in an exciting, unimagined, tangent. (No, in drought affected Melbourne, I don’t let the water keep flowing, usually by that stage I’m scrambling for towel and pen and paper.)

I might not ever use the ideas, notes, or lines of dialogue that come from my musings, but the effect is that it keeps my characters close, and enables them to grow through exploring their options, feelings and possibilities even though I’m not putting a word on paper. Then the next time I am able to sit down and write, it’s amazing how easily words come.

Note to self: (and anyone else it may help) Where ever we are in the writing journey, we need to hold onto the dream and keep our story headspace. Or, know when it’s time to give that headspace a good rest and come back invigorated and ready to reignite the passion. The most important thing is to keep blowing gently on the flicker of writing fire, so that it never completely cools. Even then, with the right fuel and spark, any fire can be relit.

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deescribewriting" alt="deescribewriting">


I can really relate to this, Chris.

It’s something I haven’t been doing, allowing enough headspace for my characters.

Thanks for a great post.


September 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm
Lorraine" alt="Lorraine">


Chris, its that consistent pushing along with the story day after day- I’ve been able to do this across two manuscripts these past two weeks and they’re growing and I’m thinking and re-reading and mentally plotting and then a line comes from nowhere and propels the story along. But its keeping contact with the characters- a bit like keeping contact with family and friends that makes the dialogue happen and characters grow. Loving your posts!

September 16, 2010 at 3:29 pm
Dale Harcombe" alt="Dale Harcombe">

Dale Harcombe

Good post Chris and important point to make. Showers and baths are helpful for creativity as is daydreaming.
Like Lorraine I often work on more than one ms at a time. That means when one gets stuck, the other is always there. Meanwhile the brain is tossing things around and coming up with solutions to problem areas.

September 17, 2010 at 9:27 am
christinemareebell" alt="christinemareebell">


Hi Dale. I love the way the brain keeps working behind the scenes, (sometimes creating scenes) while we’re busy on other things. 🙂 Chris

September 20, 2010 at 12:14 pm

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