In 1990, I bought a La-Z-Boy rocker/recliner for my study, and spent a number of years sitting in it, writing. I still own that chair, and, when I want some time to ponder or to daydream while working on an essay, a story, a novel, that’s where I go. There’s something about the gentle rocking motion that soothes me, and if there’s a window nearby with a view, then all the better.
I used to write exclusively with pen and legal pad, and there’s still something about the motion of my hand moving across the page that forces me to slow down, to feel the rhythm of my sentences, to open up avenues I might not consider while typing on a computer. I write almost exclusively on a computer now, but when I’m first getting something started, or when I’m stuck and need to work something through, I often go back to the pen and the pad.
There’s something to be said for slowing down in both our writing and our living. Paying attention to the natural rhythms of a piece will allow it to emerge more organically. Sometimes I feel something forced into its final form, and I wonder how much of that is the result of fingers flying over a keyboard and words stretching out over a computer screen. Think about what happens when you write in longhand. Try it and see. For me, the world I’m describing emerges in fuller detail. I’m going slow. I’m taking the time to look around and see what’s there. I can easily pause and look out a window, or close my eyes, and, while rocking back and forth, I can invite the world of the piece into my view. I also hear the music of the language. Writing in longhand reminds me that each word matters and that each sentence has a specific purpose in the piece.
Taking the time to listen, to gather, and to contemplate, will lead to richer connections with the worlds and characters we’re inventing on the page as well as with the people around us in our real lives. There’s a reason why homes used to have front porches and on those porches were rocking chairs, swings, gliders. That gentle motion of back and forth, that slowing down of time, that careful consideration of words: it all matters if we’ll allow it.