Pause for Percolation: The Writing Brain

I have a confession to make: Finishing the next novel is taking longer than expected. That shouldn’t be so much of a surprise (either to me, or to you), because the previous four books also took me much longer than I thought they should. But I remain forever hopeful that improving as a storyteller will eventually lead to a faster, more efficient process. 

For now, though, my writing brain still works more like a coffee press than those far more efficient drip machines: dump a bunch of fresh-ground ideas into the bottom of a pot, pour on filtered perspective—and then go do something else. All those words need time to steep and absorb, in order to develop their full flavor. 

That’s why I recently hit pause on my WIP.  Overloaded brains get clogged, which prevents the best ideas from bubbling up to the surface. And unlike launching schedules, regattas, and work projects, this work is completely within my own control. 

Sometimes a pause can be the best way to move forward, especially now that travel is on my schedule once again. I’ve written before about an overheard snippet of conversation that sparked a fresh thought, which—eventually—led to a significant turn in the story. With so few new experiences last year, I need time to build a new stockpile of happenstance that can be dripped and pressed through my imagination. Only then will all the swirling details of this next story come together—into a truly satisfying “cuppa,” as Courtney would put it.  

We are so lucky to be putting 2020’s swirling, invisible stress behind us, getting back to a normal newly topped with gratitude for what we used to take for granted. (Thank you, science.) Meanwhile, three decades of research have not yet led to a writing “vaccine” that will speed up my personal percolation. So, since conscious pauses remain a key piece of the process, I’m going to try to enjoy this next phase—even though my mouth is already watering in anticipation, ready for the rich robust flavor of the freshly brewed story that’s already percolating deep within my writer’s brain. 

2 Replies to “Pause for Percolation: The Writing Brain”

  1. “…dump a bunch of fresh-ground ideas into the bottom of a pot, pour on filtered perspective—and then go do something else.”

    Love it. Even getting a good night’s sleep will bring out new flavor!

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