Special contest! K.M. is giving away a copy of Behold the Dawn to the readers of this post. Everyone who leaves a comment today will be entered in a drawing to win.
The Myth of Being in the Zone
At one point or another, all authors have found that delicious groove called “being in the zone.” The Zone is that enchanted land, in which we can do no wrong. Our words flow from our fingertips onto our keyboards with lightning speed, every one of them singing with the perfect expression of our intent, every one of them beautiful and powerful and vibrant. We write for hours, our energy level so high it’s practically bouncing out of the top of our skulls. When we finally tear ourselves away from our story, we’re so pumped that we alternate between wanting to run around the block and resisting the urge to shove our newly minted words under the nose of anybody we can talk into reading them. Without doubt, The Zone is one awesome place.
Too bad we can’t stay there all the time.
The sad fact of the matter is that The Zone isn’t exactly the easiest place to find. It would be wonderful if there were a map, a list of surefire steps, that could lead us there every time we sit down to write. But most of us are lucky just to find our accidental way there once every couple months. Instead, we spend most of our time slogging along, disciplining ourselves to poke out a paltry page or two, groaning at the end of the day with the knowledge that we’re probably just going to have to rewrite it tomorrow.
Joni B. Cole describes it:
…the creative process has two components. There is the fun part, when we are captivated by our own genius and prolificacy. And there is the Are we having fun yet? part, when we feel anything but creative, yet must still fulfill our commitment to write 300 words a day.
Undoubtedly, we always leave our desks after a day of being in The Zone, feeling a hundred times better about our writing than we do on the non-Zone days. But does that mean that our non-Zone writing is worthless in comparison? Very, very happily for us—no, it does not.
My recently released medieval novel Behold the Dawn was one of those special stories that just flowed. I still look back on it with a sense of wonder, reading some of the passages and thinking, I couldn’t really have written this, could I? I had some of the best Zone moments I’ve ever had while writing this story. But I’ll tell you secret: those moments were few and far between.
Zone writing—those high points of inspiration and motivation—is one of the biggest rewards of the creative life. But, surprisingly, its presence is not a determining factor in the worth of our writing. Writing isn’t always about channeling creativity and inspiration; most of the time, it’s about approaching our craft like disciplined workmen who have to get the job done whether they feel like it or not. Because we can’t always ride the high wave of our right-brain creativity, we have to realize that the hard-working, logical left side of our brains is just as important—even more so.
Just because you’re not in The Zone, just because you’re struggling, just because you finish a day of writing feeling like every word you wrote was worthless—doesn’t necessarily make it so. The Zone is far too elusive to depend upon it for our creative worth. Learn to accept the reality of the non-Zone moments and realize that they can be just as effective as the heights of inspiration.
About the Author: K.M. Weiland (http://www.kmweiland.com) writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in the sandhills of western Nebraska. She is the author of A Man Called Outlaw and the recently released Behold the Dawn. She blogs at Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors and AuthorCulture.
About Behold the Dawn: Marcus Annan, a tourneyer famed for his prowess on the battlefield, thought he could keep the secrets of his past buried forever. But when a mysterious crippled monk demands Annan help him find justice for the transgressions of sixteen years ago, Annan is forced to leave the tourneys and join the Third Crusade.
Wounded in battle and hunted by enemies on every side, he rescues an English noblewoman from an infidel prison camp and flees to Constantinople. But, try as he might, he cannot elude the past. Amidst the pain and grief of a war he doesn’t even believe in, he is forced at last to face long-hidden secrets and sins and to bare his soul to the mercy of a God he thought he had abandoned years ago.
The sins of a bishop.
The vengeance of a monk.
The secrets of a knight.
Watch the book trailer: