I woke up thinking about my novel this morning, puzzling it out, trying to come up with solutions for the issues my critique group noted on Saturday. Solutions didn’t jump up and down waving their hands like anxious students or anything, but it was still nice to have those moments of contemplation, to have this creative work-in-progress of mine be the first thing on my mind as I woke up.
If when you wake up in the morning you can think of nothing but writing, you are meant to be a writer.
It doesn’t happen to me every morning or even all that frequently, but I find myself happy about the fact of it when it does happen.
And it made me want to go hunt down my copy of Letters to a Young Poet that I read in college. I flipped through it this morning to revisit some of Rilke’s advice that I’d highlighted as a grad student. Unfortunately, since it’s a translated work, the wording of the quote varies widely depending on which edition you read, but here is a quote from mine that stood out to me this morning:
Always trust yourself and your own feeling . . . ; if it turns out that you are wrong, then the natural growth of your inner life will eventually guide you to other insights. Allow your judgments their own silent, undisturbed development.
It seems like morning contemplations are just that: “silent, undisturbed development” — a space to let one thought roll over another without the pressure of sitting in front of a computer screen and trying to force words from your head onto the page.
I still remember my advanced writing teacher in college showing us that the standardized writing process — prewrite, draft, revise — leaves out the important step of “incubate.” I like that step a lot.
As I said, this morning solutions weren’t exactly forthcoming. I don’t know how I’m going to revise those tricky first 60 pages that keep causing problems. But I’m going to let the problem keep simmering and take Rilke’s advice to trust myself and my feelings to eventually lead me to insights.
What do you think? How/when do insights come to you?