By Ali Cross
Imagine if you couldn’t speak. What would you do? How would you let people know what you were thinking, feeling, what you needed?
At the end of a vacation in which there was neither time nor opportunity to write, I felt very much like such a person.
I ate up the miles behind the wheel imagining what I would write about next, how I would change or improve my current stories and how wonderful it would feel to be able to express myself again.
In many ways, taking such breaks from writing can be good for you—absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that jazz. You get to step back from your writing and, for a change, see the forest, instead of just the trees. You can cleanse your mind, like taking a sniff of cocoa beans after sampling perfume. (I’m trying to see how many similes I can come up with in one paragraph, like a brunch buffet on a Saturday morning.)
I willed my car to fly over the miles that separated me from my goal—to spend a few hours of peace and quiet with nothing but my stories to keep me company. Since simply willing the time to pass more quickly didn’t work, I entertained myself on the long drive by writing in my mind, or, as Terry Brooks says, daydreaming.
Easily as important as the time you spend with fingers on the keys, or pen to paper, daydreaming is an essential part of any good storyteller’s routine. We need to be able to let our mind flow over the ideas, collecting and discarding them as they come. Allow all your senses to come into play and immerse yourself into the story as you did when you were a child.
So what if you couldn’t speak? Assuming it’s a temporary thing, you might cherish the silence. Similarly, if you’re without pen and paper or in my case, a laptop and power supply, treasure the time you have to dream. Silence, as they say, can truly be golden.