I admire the writer who can wake in the morning primed and ready to write. I admire the writer who can balance home and family with quiet, private writing time. I admire the writer who can deal with real-life drama while creating some drama of her own.
I used to be that writer. Years ago. Of course, that writing wasn’t something I’d share with the world – though at the time I thought it was better than anything out there.
I’ve become more critical of my writing over the years. If a word doesn’t fit the rhythm of the prose, I’ll obsess until I’ve replaced that word with just the right one. If a tiny plot point seems out of sync with the rest of the story, it will haunt me as I make dinner, fill the car with gas, help Daughter style her hair.
So, I’m always thinking about my writing – always thinking about what comes next in the story and just how I want to say it. But I’m not always getting it down on the page. Indeed, there have been times when doing the dishes, the bills or even the yard work is more attractive to me than writing.
What’s up with that???
Methinks it’s simply part of my process. 🙁
I wrote an article not long ago titled, “Thinking IS Work”. For writers, writing is easy. It’s the planning, the precise wording, the puzzle pieces neatly fitting – the missing puzzle pieces – and the thinking that put the ‘work’ in our creative day. I tend to spend a lot of time thinking and looking for those missing puzzle pieces. Once I finally sit, the words do flow but getting from here to there… well… utter torture.
Obviously, getting the words on the page is the ultimate high for a writer – myself included. Then why do writers like myself do so much to avoid it? Maybe because of the required investment of time, energy and emotion? Writing fiction is definitely a commitment of heart and head. When I sit to write, I need to know I will not be interrupted. Only then can I immerse myself in the story and FEEL the anguish or delight my characters feel. Only then will those characters ‘speak’ to me. Only then will that depth be transferred to the page. No half-way investments. It’s all or nothing – and that can be absolutely draining.
Starting a scene or chapter is the hardest part of all for me. POV switches, change of emotion or action… all work as the proverbial brick wall in my path. However, once I’ve forced myself to just have at it and have written my way into the story – with the knowledge that I have X amount of time to myself – the words add up, the emotion roils and the scene is there in all it’s glory. At least in my completely biased opinion. It’s a wonderfully productive time that makes me wonder why I put such effort into avoiding it in the first place.
What about you? Are you a rise and shine kind of writer, primed and ready to go? Or are you a tantrum thrower who has to drag your muse, kicking and screaming as they say, to the page? What is the easiest part of writing for you? The hardest? And how to you overcome that which keeps you from plopping your butt in the seat and keeping it there until a solid day’s work is done?
Ahh. The brick wall. I know it well. I find it VERY hard to get into the story. I’m not sure why unless I know it will cost me emotionally. Once I’m in I hte to be pulled out.
How do I get past the ‘wall’? Lots of things help–a timer, freefall writing. Often I discover the brick wall is only colored marshmallows. Other times, it’s reinforced with steel.
Over time I think good habits of self discipline help. OTOH, staring into space is part of the creative process.
You’ve started a very complex topic. Maybe someone will have some insights I can use.
You agonize about writing the book, I agonize about the *gasp* new blog entry! Want to come on over to my blog and fill in a few days for me? LOL We could call it the takeover of Marly Mathews’ blog by Debora Dale. 😉
Debbie and Linda, we do tend to be critical of our work. Torturing ourselves makes us better writers, and that’s when I hit the brick wall. It forces me to return to the synopsis I’d written for the story. I might change something in the synopsis if a character’s motivation (for what they’re doing in the scene I don’t like) is lacking. If I still feel that the scene is critical to the advancement of the plot, I sum it up and after it reads faster, I generally like it.
Colored marshmallows!!! LOVE it. Be the flame and smore that wall! LOL. I love this because it reminds me that it’s all just a state of mind. A sturdy state of mind that’s excellent at trickery but a state of mind nevertheless. Maybe it’s just about visualizing the wall coming down one brick at a time. What will it take to start chipping away at it? One word? One sentence? One paragraph? Soon… another page is written and we’re on our way. Hmm… I wonder if that works only in theory… methinks I shall find out…
Ah, Debbie, you’re hitting what Stephen Pressman calls Resistance in his book The War of Art. I wrote a review of the book at my RWA chapter blog, A Slice of Orange, http://occsliceoforange.blogspot.com/. My post was on June 23.
His book helped me so you might want to check it out, too.
Linda / Lyndi
Just tell me when and what and I’ll be there. LOL. So funny. Just remember – you’re published and have numerous deadlines. I’m not and don’t. It’s easier to concentrate on a blog when there’s no plot to follow through on, then on a story when the characters are teetering at the edge and waiting for you to write them into safety. And so… I blog.
I think you’ve hit on something here… we can tweak the plot somewhat because, as we all know, the characters do like to switch things up on us sometimes, but their motivation has to shine through consistently. Ah. That’s very helpful. It’s about the characters’ needs and methods more than the actual plot.
I’m going to check that review right now. The War of Art – how apropos.
I’m so eager for my chapter counter to move. I’ve been stuck at 10 done and 10 to go for… too long now.
Oh dear LORD!!! Lyndi! How do you expect me to READ your review and actually concentrate on what you’re saying in it… or worse… concentrate on writing my own story when… when… THAT cover of your book is sitting right there next to your words?!?!?!?
Holy cow. I’m drooling and done for.
I’ve found that the right music, like a story’s “soundtrack,” can parachute me back into the world of the story.
Like you, I don’t like to write unless I have time to immerse myself. I don’t like to be pulled out, either, so time slips away on me while I write. And my “real life” responsibilities tend to slide.
Frankly, the longer I do this, the more impressed I am by any novel in my hands. That people can complete a novel fast enough to release one every year amazes me.
Linda, love the cover for your book, COSMIC SCANDAL! I’ve read that a man’s chest and women’s feet (in pretty shoes) are top book cover choices.
Once I get my but in the chair and reread what I wrote the day before it seems to flow (not a like a river more like a trickle, then a brook, then a stream, then a trickle again. It’s getting the old buttocks in the chair… any suggestions for that?
A story soundtrack – what a great idea. Though, I’m such a music freak, I’d probably get up and dance or wind up singing along instead of writing. I can just imagine the rolling of Daughter’s eyes, too. LOL.
That cover of Linda’s book is indeed amazing, isn’t it!! A man’s chest on a cover I can understand, but a woman’s feet? FEET?
I love the water analogy, I can see it and relate very well. Suggestions for getting the butt in the chair? Willingly? I wonder if we could ask our family members to be our bosses in this one instance? Maybe give them the power over us to get us to ‘start’. If we can bribe them with something they want – an extra 15 minutes with a computer game, a special dessert after dinner – then maybe they’ll work hard to guilt us/boss us into sitting in the chair and getting to work.