Journal

Journal

book inc  –  journal  –  Unexpected Benefits of Writing Slowly

Unexpected Benefits of Writing Slowly

A recent foot surgery slows down book inc writer Shanda McManus and gets her thinking about the benefits of a forced slowdown in her writing.

By Shanda McManus

November 02, 2023

I recently had foot surgery, forcing me to get around on one leg for three weeks. A knee scooter became my best friend. I learned how far I could hop—three feet max. I became a pro at getting up and down the stairs on my butt. Everything I did took longer. Showering became an epic production requiring a walker, shower chair, and the assistance of my husband.

I spent days on the couch watching Netflix with my foot propped up. When I could not stand to watch another episode of The Great British Bake Off, I tried to do simple chores like loading the dishwasher. The rinsing and stacking took me three times as long and put my balance to the test. When I finally finished and pushed the start cycle button, I felt accomplished. I realized I hadn’t properly appreciated the simple gratification of doing the dishes.

Revising my latest project has felt a lot like getting around on one leg. Everything I plan to revise takes way longer than I predict. If I plan to get through three chapters, I get through three paragraphs. Somehow, my concentration gives out, and I am not sure why. I am two months past the deadline I made for myself to have this revision completed. The slow pace frustrated me until I realized that this forced slowdown made me pay attention to my book on the sentence and word level. I find myself focusing on small changes, like making sure I am writing in the active voice.

Instead of finding gratification in getting the book done, I’ve rediscovered the pleasure of crafting a good sentence, finding the right word, and appreciating what I have written. Instead of being focused on the end result, I am enjoying the writing journey, taking time to smell the roses of my writing, so to speak. And, like loading the dishwasher, it feels good to accomplish and appreciate just being able to write and create word by word.

Shanda McManus

Shanda McManus is a family medicine physician. Her writing has been featured in Intima Journal of Narrative Medicine, Midnight & Indigo, and other publications.

Shanda McManus is a family medicine physician. Her writing has been featured in Intima Journal of Narrative Medicine, Midnight & Indigo, and other publications.