Tuesday, February 22, 2011

High on Words

For me, there are several kinds of highs involved with writing.

The Concept High: That’s the one where I get an idea I know I can’t walk away from – an idea that makes me gleeful, and giddy and sometimes even giggly. It’s the idea that won’t leave me alone and makes me smile whenever I think of it. I had one of those a few nights ago. It came to me while I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep. Once it hit, I knew sleep was impossible until I jotted down all of the ideas that were spinning like shiny pinwheels in my head. While I was scribbling notes as fast as I could, I realized I was giggling. Alone in my bed. Out loud. Like a loon. It’s three days later, and I still smile whenever I think about my new sparkly idea.

The Flow High: This is the one that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, but when it does, I’m all kinds of excited. This is the feeling of elation that accompanies those bouts of almost effortless writing where I’m in the zone and the tapping of the keys sounds like a soft, steady rain falling while the words flow like a fast moving stream onto the page. There’s almost a feeling of invincibility as I watch the words spread to cover the page.

The Finish High: There’s nothing quite like the feeling of the big finish. For me, this doesn’t happen when I type “The End”. It happens after my critique partners read “The End” and I tweak and tweak some more. The rush of excitement gets even stronger when I send the whole thing off to my editor. As a side note – the Finish High is usually quickly replaced by the Finish Fear which is the worry that my editor will hate it.

The Reader/Reviewer High: This is a special kind of high. It’s the kind I can pull out and look at whenever I need to. Reader letters and reviews are great when I first get them, but there are other times when they’re even more important. Like when I’m out of ideas, or when I have no flow, or when I can’t see the end no matter how much I squint. Sometimes it helps to peek at a great review or an especially lovely reader letter to remind myself of what that writing high feels like so I can find my way back to the flow.

In a way, I think most writers are probably adrenaline junkies. We’re addicted to the writing high.

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