Thursday, March 4, 2010


by Dave White

I know this is a crime fiction blog, but I'm not talking about tension in a story. I'm talking about literal stress headache tension.

You see, I know it's awful to admit this, but as much as I try to, I don't write every day. Sure, when I'm in the middle of a novel, I'm getting my 1,000 words in and when I'm revising I'm working as hard as I can, but when I'm between pieces I sometimes stop. It's like going to the gym, you decide you can skip one day and the next thing you know you've missed two weeks.

The funny thing is I know this is bad for me.

Writing is a good thing for me. I've written how it is my therapy. It gets me thinking about a lot of things both in terms of the story and whatever I'm dealing with in real life at the same time. And it helps me deal with those things.

So, when I go through one of those stretches when I'm not writing, I start feeling the tension build. My muscles tighten and a dull pain runs up the back of my neck and I get frustrated a lot easier. It's like my brain needs to work something out, but is not being given the tools to work it out. I can't relax.

And the easy solution is to write, isn't it?

You're correct. I need to sit down and start tapping at the keyboard again. Just get some words down on paper, then the tension will ease, the characters will come into focus.

The problem is, I often don't realize what's giving me stress until I start writing again. I'll notice I'm stressed out, but can't figure out why. My life seems to be going well, I'm not too concerned about anything. But my temper's short, I have to work at being cheerful.

It's because a part of me is missing. Writing is a part of my life and something I really enjoy. When I'm not doing it, I miss it.

Even when it's hard.

It's time for me to get back to it. Time to start banging away at the story that's gnawing at my brain.

I have work to do.


Joelle Charbonneau said...

Okay, I thought I was the only one who did the tension while not writing thing. I'm fine if I'm revising a book or sketching out something new....but in those weeks in between books, I often take a break on purpose. Those breaks are great for the first week before the tension begins to build. Maybe this time I'll keep the break down to a week or two on purpose. I get headaches with those tension builds and I don't do pain well.

Happy writing!

Cormac Brown said...

Well, it would help if you weren't writing about the Oakland Raiders, for San Francisco Chronicle. Check the byline, and jeez, that commute from New Jersey must be horrible.