I said I’d come back here with an update and it’s an update I don’t mind giving.
I did not write six pages per day for five days this week, However, I learned something vital – if you keep writing, you keep writing. Simple, ain’t it?
The muse, like a muscle, when lazing around too long, turns to mush. It’s harder to get it into top form because each time you start, it’s like starting a new workout routine… or worse, starting to work out for the first time. You have to keep the muscle moving, working, in order for it to reach maximum potential.
After pushing through my first day of real, wrist-numbing writing, I found myself, once again consumed by my story. That’s a good thing. I heard the characters’ voices again. I saw them moving, they way they gestured when they spoke. Their clothes, their environment. The beauty of Book-in–a-week is that you’re immersed in your characters’ world and that makes the writing fluid.
I confess, I broke a couple of huge Book-in-a-Week rules. I re-read my work. A lot. And I stopped to research various locales via Google Maps – Street View. I had to. I’m the kind of writer who winds up preoccupied with story blanks and must fill them in if I’m to move the story forward. It’s okay. It’s my process.
And so, because of my process, I didn’t write six pages per day this week, I wrote four. I’m happy with that. That’s sixteen pages more than I had before – and, if you’re doing the math, then yes, that means I wrote for four days so far. Today will be my fifth. And, for the record, since I write single-spaced pages not double, that’s actually 32 pages in four days so, in fact, I’ve written eight pages per day.
No matter how you look at it, writing daily – in solid blocks or in ten-minute spurts – is the not-so-secret secret to getting the story down. Of course I’ll need to polish, but the ‘story’ is there and as Nora said, “You can’t edit a blank page.”
Speaking of Nora Roberts… I attended a writing lecture about a month ago and heard that Ms. Nora writes her first drafts with just dialogue. Once the chatty bones of her story are down, she goes back into the story to add those details that make Nora’s work so unique.
Why does it matter? Because everyone has their own method. And as my wonderfully wise and encouraging critique partner often says, “Trust your process.”
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?