I wish I could see a brain scan of what happens with my gray matter when I'm writing and I'm in the zone.
I was in the zone earlier this evening, working on Sexton Retribution. It felt great. What's it like to be in The Zone? I'll try to explain...
Stephen King called it "The Hole in the Paper", that special feeling a writer gets when he or she is able to write as thoughts occur, when fingers fly and words seem to appear of their own volition. I call it The Zone because it feels like a place.
If you've seen that TV show with the woman who works with the police and has a perfect memory, you'll know what I'm talking about. When she goes into her memory to revisit a crime scene, the viewer sees her in the middle of the scene observing everything around her. In those scenes, she's in what I'm calling The Zone.
Tonight I started a chapter with a frightened Cedric alone in his room in the Fortress Balfour. I could see him on the bed, struggling to stay awake, knowing he was about to be visited by what he thought was a ghost. That's the image I had in mind when I started to write. While I let my fingers go on auto pilot, I imagined (saw) pertinent things in the room: candles on the table by the bed, more candles on the table by the door. On closer examination, I saw he had blocked the door with a dresser and a chair.
I didn't have to think about him blocking the door, I didn't have to think about what he would block the door with. Those details were part of the picture in my mind. When Nick's form appeared in the room, I "saw" Cedric react. Writing about it was secondary. I didn't have to compose the sentences. They just came to me. The dialog came to me too. I was playing the scene in my head.
When I'm in The Zone, I don't feel like I'm directing a movie. I'm not conscious of composing sentences. I don't feel like I'm the one writing the dialog. My hands are divorced from my consciousness. They caress the keyboard.
That's why I write... I love the zone. I love to read the output, but mostly I love to be in the scene, unconsciously recording the conjurations of my mind.