Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Go Write Something

There is someone I've been following for a while, watching how she's doing with the online publishing idea. I'm starting to see a real pattern in her journal and it points to being bored with her work. These days, she is writing about her hobby far more than her work and she's plainly far more excited about the hobby than she is about the writing.

And you know, I can understand that part. She's been writing on these never-ending stories for a long time. I'm betting she even has some good ideas saved up for the stories, knows some of where she wants to go -- but the draw isn't there at the moment.

This is a lesson, I think. At least it would be for me: Don't tie yourself forever to a set of stories because you are going to lose interest at some point. And so, by the way, will the readers. If all you are doing is writing to fill the week's allotment of words, and the scenes you are writing aren't going to lead anywhere in particular, it's time to rethink what you're doing. This can happen to any writer, whether they are posting something on line or if they are working on a novel that is taking longer than expected. What has gone wrong? What can you change?

Why are you interested in anything but writing?

We all hit those times now and then. It's natural. However, if you find that you're spending all the time you could be writing doing something else, then maybe there's something wrong with your story or with your approach.

Writing a story should never feel like a job that has to be done like some kind of factory work. Does that sound odd from someone who writes every day? I don't work on something if it bores me. I don't force myself to write words just to write them. I work on stories that I love, and if one bogs down, I move to another, but I always go back and finish the story within a few months. I do this because I never go so far that I lose all interest in the story. I moved away from it when I realize I have a problem and let it ferment for a while again before I go back. Then, when I'm ready, I finish the story.

Finishing manuscripts gives a sense of accomplishment that goes far beyond 'I wrote a thousand words today.' I like both levels and I think that they work for writers (though it doesn't have to be daily writing, of course). Getting paid for the work? Yeah, that's nice, too. But you have to love the first two parts before you can hope for the last -- at least in most cases.

Learning to love writing is plainly difficult for some people. They get far too caught up in the technical aspects and think that is going to define what they do. Rather than putting down words and then reworking those words to something better, they'll talk they're way all around a story and never write more than a few pages. They discuss 'voice' and never write enough to develop their own. They talk about plot and don't write a full story to see how a plot works.

In order to become a good writer, you must start as a bad one and learn from experience. No amount of book reading, blog reading or Twitter tips is going to make you into a good writer without actually doing the work.

So stop talking about writing and go do some.
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zz said...

I like this post a lot. I think you're so right about making sure you are enjoying what you write not just filling the day's quota of words. The discipline of writing daily is great, no matter how much awful the writing that you're churning out is.

But if you hate the process or your work, then you're wasting your time, it's probably as dry as an arabian's sandals.

I'm all for educating yourself about the tools of language, but you're right, if you don't just get on with writing you'll never be a WRITER.

Betty Welch said...

I agree with you that no matter how much blogging or twittering you do will make you into a good writer. Hopefully, the more you write and I believe revising you do the more mistakes you can learn from. Which will lead you into better writing.