Thursday, July 21, 2011

Not That I Asked Him: A Son's Advice

While I was pouring my fourth cup of coffee this morning, my son mentioned that he had read my past few blog posts.


"If you want people to buy and read your next book," he said, "you might want to stop whining about how hard it is to write and how much trouble you're having with the story."

Hmmm. Anyone else wanna weigh in here?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Writing the First Draft: Don't Look Back

Yesterday I completed the 250th page of a my projected 350-page novel. This had a sort of milestone feel to it, so this morning, instead of working on page 251 as I knew I should, I decided to reward myself by flipping through the pages completed thus far. Result?

Artist's rendering of my expression after perusing the pages of my work-in-progress
Allow me to share with you some of the thoughts of my inner critic.

"Wow. That opening sentence will grab approximately no one."
"Excellent scene! If only you had written it in English."
"You do understand the concept of a timeline, right?"
"This is a novel, not a run-on sentence competition."
"The logic flow in this chapter is impeccably flawed."
"Is there a cliched expression you haven't used yet?"

Fellow writers, if you're in the middle (or beginning or near the end) of your first draft, do yourself a favor: Do not look back. Keep going until it's finished. There will be plenty of time afterward to make whatever changes are needed to silence the inner critic. But if you let that critic get to work too soon, it becomes all the more difficult to carry on.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I Can Not Not Write. Not.

I enjoy reading articles and interviews with writers about the writing process. Inevitably, the writer is asked, "What would you do if you couldn't write?"

The answer that knocks me out of my chair, ROFLMA-style, is, "I can't imagine not writing."

Really? As a full-time writer, I can most definitely imagine not writing. In fact, I spend a good deal of my writing time not writing. I believe it's a Newtonian Law of Physics: the more time available for the written word, the fewer words written.

Why the seeming contradiction? In my case, the explanations are as logical as they are numerous. For example, I have bookshelves. These bookshelves hold many books. These books are of varying height and width. How can one write when yesterday's arrangement is no longer satisfactorily aligned with the creative pathways?

I also have a desk. Pens, notepads, coffee mugs (see pic), more books, aspirin bottles, and a variety of other items must be rearranged, put away, or used to sharpen my stacking-items-of-different-shapes skills before I can focus properly. I also have a dog who pretends to sleep contentedly at my feet when I know she is just dying to go on a four-mile walk. I have a Facebook page that needs face time; a twitter account that needs tweeting. Have I mentioned that I have fast-growing fingernails? Before you know it, it's the cocktail hour. And it is very bad karma indeed for a writer to ignore the cocktail hour.

And, oh yeah, there's the fact (for me, anyway) that the writing process itself tends be a wee bit painful.

So why do I do it? Beats the hell out of me. All I know is, when I'm finished not writing, I just can't help myself.

What about you? Can you not not write? If not, why not? (Extra points if you can figure out that question. I can... not.)