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The Story Brain

I have never been a writer who must write every day — however, it’s very unusual for me to not write a little something; my brain enjoys days “off” where I “only” research or plot or ponder. Still, not writing fiction for a solid two weeks is highly unusual for me – though I recently did it.

During those two weeks, I struggled to find the proper direction of the story that was in progress; nothing seemed to work right, not the voice, not the setting, not the anything. I didn’t hate it, but boy I didn’t love it. I found myself actively avoiding writing because reasons.

Reasons being: the continued SFWA hullaballoo eating my brains like the undead thing it is; the recent wrap up of a novelette-length story; the excitement of my first book being unleashed upon the world; Shimmer galleys and wrangling seventeen authors (bios and stories and photos and interviews and corrections and and and); and a billion other “reasons” that probably don’t merit detail. “Real” life often doesn’t lend itself to the creative process — so we have to work around that.

Still, a solid two weeks where I actively didn’t care about making words, or trying to make words; my brain wanted to be fallow and empty and so it was and so I let it be.


I read a lot.

I cleared the decks of other works.

I did not write.

I accepted an invite to an anthology.

I ate strawberries in the garden.

I played a lot of games and Magic owns my soul.

I did not write.

I killed a lot of monsters.

I cooked. I baked. I swam.

I did an interview.

I did not write.


Last Friday, my brain said “we’re BACK,” and boy is it.

I drafted an entire story in a day (highly unusual!), and then other stories began to make themselves known. A novella began jabbering to me, and Egypt of the past raised its hand again, and it became a flood in my head. There’s an SF piece in need of writing, and a fantasy piece; there’s a story about an abandoned place that isn’t actually, and there’s probably a story about you, too.

I was never a writer who felt they had an unlimited storehouse of ideas; I have never been someone who said “I will never have enough time to write all the things I want to write” (though I was very much someone who did say “I will never be able to read all the things”).

Until I was.

It just happened – and recently. Suddenly the things I found myself wanting to write expanded and expanded, like those sponge monsters you add water to. FOOM.

These monsters always come back.


How does it happen? No one knows.

How can it happen for you? No one knows.

But I think we need to give ourselves the space (and possibly permission) to not write. Why force it if it’s not there? This just annoys a person – especially if it’s me. We need to give ourselves the space to do everything but write, so that our brain can haul us back when it’s ready and say hey, let’s go again.

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