"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Monday, April 12, 2010

Write, darn you!

One of the things that surprised me when I became a published writer is that everyone I meet is going to write a book. They're going to write it when:

* They retire.
* Their kids are older.
* Their life gets easier/less stressful/less busy.

Here's my response to those who are "going to write" - if you wait until your life is at the perfect place for you to write, you will never write. If you are going to be a writer, then write now. Your life will always be filled with one thing or another. We live our lives like goldfish, growing to the size of our container. If you can find 15 minutes a day where no one is pulling at your sleeve and you're conscious, you can write.

Now, you may not write your Great American Novel. Fifteen minutes a day is probably not enough. But you NEED to write SOMETHING. Look out your window and describe a bird in a tree or your kids playing in the yard. Think about a memory and jot it down. Take your 15 minutes to go back and edit the snippet you wrote yesterday. Start an outline or cast of characters for that novel you plan to write.

Writing involves the act of getting words and images out of your head and onto the paper. They need to be honed, so that the words you spilled out become the best words for what you're trying to say. If you don't practice this every day, you will never build your writing muscles. If you don't build those chops, then even if the perfect timing DOES exist and you end up on an island retreat with a laptop and all the time in the world, it won't matter because you won't know how to get stories out of your head and out where the world can appreciate them.

I write every day, although I don't always work on the book. Once a week, I write and deliver my column (What a Day) of about 600 words. Sometimes I'm asked to put together something for the choir, or for Tina's ranch. I also need to keep this blog up-to-date enough to keep people's interest. And then there's Snoopy.

Snoopy is one of my two horses (I also own his mother, Frostie), and I started a blog about him because two years ago, he broke a bone in his leg, and documenting his surgery and progress helped me deal with the enormous frustration I felt from being medically ignorant and having to pull information out of veterinarians. He's got a few followers, one of which is the last doctor I took him to - he's a lameness specialist and actually read all of the blog posts before talking to me. Can I just say I love that man?

Anyway, today I decided to update his blog, even though there's nothing spectacular going on in his life. I'll do some writing on the next book, sure, but I felt the need to flex my muscles in that direction.

Because I write every day.


B. Miller said...

Great post! I agree, you MUST write as much as you can if you're ever hoping to produce a novel. I don't write every single day but I do schedule time for myself and set word/page goals for each week. I'm 80,000 words into my book so it must be working!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I am one of those writers who always had an excuse for not writing. Fortunately, I finally ran out of excuses. I agree with you, write everyday. I don’t always work on a novel, but just the act of putting words on paper (or the computer screen) makes me feel like I’m still making progress.

Bossy Betty said...

Great advice!

Enid Wilson said...

Motivation is my major weakness as well. At first I write only during weekends, 6 hours straight, each day. Now, I'm trying to write 1 hour every few days. But few days can turn to a week...

Really Angelic

Helen Ginger said...

You have to write to be a writer and you have to write now, not fifty years in the future when you retire. Write, write, write. Great post.

Straight From Hel

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