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A concept in spiritual practices that I’ve been exploring in my work is that of leaving no residue. If we live authentically and according to our deepest intentions, our actions leave no residue of discomfort or remorse. Some refer to this as causing no wake (the track left on the water’s surface by a boat).

What does this have to do with writing? I’ve been looking out for a subtle sense of having missed something that arises as I’m preparing to move on to the next scene –a missed opportunity, a point I wanted to weave into a scene, a character who I’d planned to include. If I pay attention to that sense and pause, I’ll usually figure out what’s bothering me and have the opportunity to flesh out the scene. It can require a long pause–weeding the garden, taking a walk, reading through notes. Sometimes I realize I’m happy with it as it is, but more often I have some decisions to make, and some revising. I can then move on with a clear conscience. It’s challenging with a deadline looming, but if I ignore it, down the road when I’m reading through the draft I’ll discover what’s missing and start negotiating with myself–do I really need to change this? Is it really better?–because it’s going to cause a domino effect through pages and pages. A wake that can feel like a tsunami!

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