Write Every Whenever

(it's cold and I want a picture of sunshine)
write without fear
edit without mercy
For all that Pinterest can be full of sappy, feel-good, escapist junk, every once in a while I'll run across a pithy little line that actually helps.  The above is one such: and coming at a time when I was trying to compact a very sizable novel into a brief summary that hit only the pertinent highlights of the plot, it was very helpful. When I wrote the summary, I wrote it.  I got stuck a few times, and frustrated, but mostly I simply put words on the page.  When I was done, I ran through it with a knife.  No word, no paragraph (no set of paragraphs) was safe.  There was an exhilaration both in the bravery of writing and in the ruthlessness of cutting.  There were some words, phrases, and paragraphs that I liked - I thought I had hit a good note - but in the end they were not necessary, and I had to set my sentiments on the back burner and hack them out.  It was a good exercise, and it made the writing process and the refining process so much more enjoyable.  When you write, write with passion, not looking back; and then remember that you are mortal and that to refine your dream, you must often tear it to pieces to make it shine. 
know what you write
They say "write what you know," which I have always considered to be a thin statement: I find it hard to write about what I do not know exists, so why bother stating the obvious?  But if there is anything that speeds the writing process along, it's knowing what you're writing.  Take that summary, for instance: I knew the material - I knew the story frontways and back.  I believed in the story, I loved it, and when it came down to writing the summary, for the most part the words came freely.  It made a huge difference because I almost literally had nothing left to do but sit down and open a vein for the words to flow, because I already had the life-blood of it inside me.  If you want to smooth the writing process, know what you are doing, care about it, believe in it.  It makes all the difference.
the "write every day" guilt
You've heard that line: write a little every day.  It's plastered all over Pinterest and writers' blogs, so that if you don't write something every day, you feel guilty, you feel like you're not a real writer, and you grow discouraged and another day goes by in which you don't write, and another, and at the end of this self-defeating guilt-trip, you're not a writer because you've paralyzed yourself into not writing anything.  The morbid, fearful mind is not one which is conducive to creating strong plot, growing characters, and good prose.  For some people, writing a little every day works.  For some people, it simply doesn't.  I know it doesn't work for me.  Sometimes I just need to take a little time off to percolate.  However your writing process works, don't allow anyone else to make you feel guilty because your process is not the same as theirs.  We are all individual human beings with individual personalities, minds, and habits: there are wrong ways to go about writing, but the right ways are not uniform.  People are sometimes uncomfortable with difference: remember, there is nothing wrong with being different.  If we were not all different, all the books would be the same. 

Darlings, writing can be hard, it can be frustrating, and it can be overwhelming.  But how many people would happily give up their nine-to-five jobs, the corporate stress, the grind of the machine, to bask in the freedom of narrative expression to which writers are the inheritors?  Writing is a privilege.  Wings can be heavy, updrafts can be hard to navigate, but don't lose sight of the miracle of flight in which you are participating.  Don't be chained, bullied, or terrorized, by yourself or by anyone else, into not appreciating the freedom we have in writing, and in loving our writing. 

3 ripostes:

  1. This post was marvelous, especially that last bit about the writerly guilt. That's something I've been thinking about lately and it was good to 'hear' from another person on the subject. I've been lurking about your blog for awhile now (not sure if I've commented before or not), but I have to say that I get very, very excited every time I see that you've posted something new. This blog is my one of my very favorites!

  2. I can't tell you how excited I get every time I think of slashing through my manuscript and improving it. It sounds controversial to everything I am as a writer (holding onto things and all that), but something inside me squeaks alive when I think of upturn and general bettering and my fingers itch to begin. It's crazy and it's somewhat paradoxical too, because when it comes time to do the actual slashing I'm not half as game. But the wanting to is half the battle, yes?

    To switch topics quite abrubtly, I have never been able to write a little everyday, and I don't think I ever will. I can't just turn it off and on like a tap! (And here I go quoting a show I've never seen.) The fearful fact of the matter is that most weeks will go by and I'll have hardly written anything at all - never as much as I would like, at the very least. But then there are those exhausting, beautiful days when the writing just flows and those are what make writing worth it. A writer's salary, I know, isn't much - you don't become an authoress for the money! - and there's got to be some reason I keep turning back to my blank pages with a headful of words and the will to make sense of them. And that's just it: those days are a gold more valuable than what a publisher could pay, and when I am proud of what I've written, somehow the other comments fade a bit.

    That isn't to say I'm good at taking criticism, mind you! :P

  3. This post is what I needed today. Thank you.