about writing

My favourite ten seven things about writing so far:

2. Some writers are idiots. Their stories will often still sell & sometimes find success. Sometimes, a lot of success. This will never cease to be irritating for those of us who want to believe we are not idiots.

3. Writing is one of those rare and precious jobs that will take everything you can throw at it. Knowledge, emotion, smarts, craft, talent, time.

6. Everyone in the world is some kind of storyteller. This is an awesome & humbling thing.

To which I add:

  1. If you're having trouble with getting up early enough to write before work, buy a kitten. He will wake you up at the stupidly dark 5 o'clock every morning without fail. You won't get any extra writing done, because you'll be soggy (from his having kept you up late the previous night to play) and he'll demand food and play, but by golly you'll be awake. Perhaps, in the the three years or so it takes him to grow out of kittenhood and into a slightly sleepier cat, you'll have your routine established and things will be much easier then.
  2. You will lie to yourself, consciously and otherwise, in order to get the words on the paper. These lies will be small but insidious (Just a half-hour and then I can stop…Another five minutes and then I can stop…). They will unpack with various levels of meaning (First drafts are allowed to be crap …Omit needless words! Omit needless words! Omit needless words!), and these levels will not always be constant. The lies and their efficacy will also change, and the lie that worked yesterday (or five minutes ago) may not work now.
  3. There will always be a reason why you can't write at the moment.
  4. This does not mean it's not a valid reason.
  5. People will give you their ideas. Sometimes they'll be mercenary about it (If I give you this idea and you write it, we could split the profits…), sometimes they'll just want to share. They will also share their techniques with you (I've always thought a really effective way of writing dialogue would be to tape a conversation and just write it out verbatim…). Eventually, you will find your own way of dealing with this.
  6. There will always be a story clamouring to be written right this second. This may not be the story you need to be working on, financially or emotionally.

4 thoughts on “about writing

  1. Hear hear! To all of that!

    Except the kitten. I'll pass on the kitten.

    6 has been of some interest lately. I'm torn between developing some form of discipline, and knuckling down and writing THIS, even if i don't want to write THIS, even if I'm sick of THIS, I will finish THIS before looking at another idea sideways.

    At the same time, I'm very much inclined to take advantage of any excitement/urge that pops up there and then, no matter what it's about, as there's no guarantee it will ever come back.

    4 is being a bitch to me now. The doctor had better give me drugs, or I will bite him.

  2. 6 is an interesting one. I've always been of the "finish this (novel) before starting another" theorem, more because I know I have an easily distractable mind. But then I was getting so stuck on the novel I should be working on, and there was chapter one of a new novel (not one of the next waiting in line, a totally new story), and… Well, I figure I could try writing both for a while. Get a minimum of words on the one before I was allowed to start on the other.

    That backfired. For the past few weeks I've simply been getting words on the new novel. But maybe the enforced isolation will teach Salamander to behave?

  3. Maybe just some distance from the story will help break the blockage, so don't feel too guilty for working on the new one. It'll refresh your brain.

    And if that doesn't work….I find having random wild animals come out of nowhere and attack characters can do wonders to jump start the plot.

    If your characters are in a position to be attacked, that is.

  4. I think the main problem with the old one is an over-familiarisation with the plot and the pre-Clarion writing post-Clarion viewpoint schism. Rewriting to fix can be harder than starting a brand new story fresh. I'm hoping some distance will help leach out the tension I built into it.

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