Last week when I wrote about blogging and does it make for less "real" writing, I mentioned visiting with your work. Someone commented on this and got me to thinking even more about it.
I do find visiting with my work vital to keeping the momentum of the story going.
Among my other writing, every day I try to work some on my novel. I never have blocks of hours for this. But no matter what amount of time I do have--even 15 minutes--I'll pick up the pages or go to my new draft and futz, or simply read. It keeps me in the story, and keeps the story breathing.
Walter Mosley has a wonderful essay about this in the book Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from the New York Times (no connection to my show). In his essay, "For Authors, Fragile Ideas Need Loving," he says:
"Nothing we create is art at first. It's simply a collection of notions that may never be understood. Returning every day thickens the atmosphere. Images appear: Connections are made. But even these clearer notions will fade if you stay away more than a day. Reality fights against your dreams, it tries to deny creation and change. The world wants you to be someone known, someone with solid ideas, not blowing smoke. Given a day, reality will begin to scatter your notions; given two days, it will drive them off."
The man's a poet; I love this essay and would love to print the entire piece here, but copyright laws say no. The book has lots of wonderful pieces. I also love Roxana Robinson's "If You Invent the Story, You're the First to See How It Ends." I can't think of any other essay I've read that contains such a startling twist.
Back to the topic at hand: Visiting with your work. Do it daily. Don't use the excuse, "I don't have the time." No one has the time. Take 15 minutes from somewhere else. Skip lunch if you need to--or do it while you eat lunch.
It's very hard to take yourself seriously when you don't have an exterior deadline. I find it difficult putting time into my novel when it's such a long work in progress and there's other work that needs doing right now.
But if we don't take our work seriously, who will? And how will it ever get done if we don't do it now?