Not Writing in a Post-Revision World (aka Kathleen’s Gone Round the Bend)

Today’s topic–the importance of Not Writing–is coming at a perfect time, as I just turned in a major revision yesterday at about 6pm Central Time. I’ll be a professional Not Writer (except, of course, for some blog entries, a newsletter, and the addresses on many-a-Christmas card) for at least the rest of the week. Also, I’m admittedly a little punchy, a side effect of revising my face off for many days in a row. I’m displaying my punchiness by engaging in an Above Average Amount of Sarcasm and also Random Capitalization that may be (but probably is not) Funny. 

I hope you enjoy this blog entry. 

Anyway, it seems to me there are a couple of types of Not Writing. The first is “letting it rest.” Many wise teachers and experienced writers will tell you that after you finish a big draft, you should let the pages just sit there for a week or more without fiddling with them. The idea is, you can then come back to your work with fresh eyes and more easily determine next steps. 

This is undoubtedly true, and I lend whatever authority I have to this age-old advice. However, I’ve discovered just one problem with this type of Not Writing. 

It’s called: Deadline.

I’ve had to shorten up the resting phase of Not Writing to the length of a weekend, an evening, or even the time it takes to walk the dog for a couple of miles. I’m happy to note that it still mostly works. So, if there’s a Contract standing in the way of your Not Writing, try shorter periods of time and hope for the best.

Another type of Not Writing is closely related to Not Losing Your Ever-Loving Mind.

What I’m saying is, you should stand up from your desk once per hour. You should exercise. You should accept dates with your friends. You should watch movies, make dinner, and hang out with your kids. You absolutely should read other people’s books. It’s hard to remember to do this type of Not Writing because of the aforementioned Contract and Deadline. But, I think these interludes of interacting with your surroundings rather than just with imaginary people of your own creation can really move you forward. 

So, in conclusion, in the immortal words of The Byrds and The Bible, there’s a time for Writing and a time for Not Writing. I’m paraphrasing here, obviously. You should go hard on the writing times, and then, diligently try to do Not Writing as you’re able. 

Thank you for coming to my blog post. It’s likely I’ll be more coherent next week after I’ve completed a spell of Not Writing. Only time will tell.

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Kathleen West

Kathleen West is the author of the forthcoming novel, Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes, out 2/4/20 from Berkley. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.

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