Friday, February 4, 2011

This Just In: Writers Write!

Ahhhhhh, scenery.

Look at that beautiful photograph. Go ahead, gaze at it's beauty.

Okay, now get back to work.

No, seriously, you need to work on your book. I don't know why it's so hard for writers to finish what they start. And I don't know why halfway through the book is when it feels like the best place to give up.

I know, because I am there. I am halfway done with the first draft of my novel, and the gremlin in the corner keeps telling me to stop. That the first half of the book is so terrible I should give up and start again. That I have several more ideas that are way more interesting than this one. The thrill is gone. The book is work; hard work. 

I should stop and orangutan wrangler. A penguin herder. Something else, so long as it's not a writer. You know what's really weird about this point in the book? Almost every writer I talk to, it occurs somewhere in the middle. Sure, you get nagging doubts and urges to stop in the beginning, but nearly every writer I've talked to it's the same: the middle of the book seems like the best place to abandon all hope. 

This is like a marathon runner training and preparing for weeks, but half way through the race he decides he doesn't feel like it anymore. He'd rather start another, a different, more interesting race. Or a mechanic losing interest half way through fixing your car. "I couldn't finish the job, I got mechanic's block. Maybe if I take a break from repairs, something will come to me."

It feels counter-intuitive, but it's what happens. Why does it seem like such a good idea to quit when you're halfway through the book? No matter what I do to inspire myself (look at the pictures I have collected for the book, listen to music, do a dance in the snow covered in honey), my interest still isn't biting. It seems easier to just give up and start something new. 

My friend Lena and I were talking about how when we were younger, we used to do that. As a teenager, I must have started half a dozen novels. I would write and write and invariably, I would get a new idea and go chase that. And then I would get another new idea, and abandon the current project for the new idea. Strangely enough, I never finished a novel that way. It's like chasing the will-o-the-wisp in a swamp, only instead of drowning horribly, you just never have a finished manuscript.

Well, here's a news flash for us all (yes, I am talking to myself. Aren't you paying attention? It's halftime for my book and it seems like a great time to do anything else but finish): Writers write.

It's shockingly easy to forget that sometimes. Yes, you need to study the craft, and you need to study publishing, and don't forget to read widely in your genre, and network on Fawitter, and promote yourself...

But first and foremost, you write. You sit your butt in that chair, and you write. Whatever comes to mind. Find your passion and stick with it. All of that Twittbooking and reading isn't' going to matter if you don't write.

Writers writer. It's in the name, after all. You sit down, and you write a book. You finish that book. You don't quit when it gets hard. You figure out what the problem is with the manuscript, you fix it, and move on. Or don't if it requires a complete rewrite. Pretend you got it right the first time, and finish your book.

Repeat after me: we are writers and writing is what we do.

So go: finish your book. Myself included.


  1. OMG. Get on that soapbox anytime, please. I do the jumping thing WAYYY too often. *slaps down plot bunny*

  2. Me too! I get them all the time, but resist! RESIST the siren's call! Finish your book!

  3. I haven't done any writing in a dog's age. But the last few nights, I have had trouble getting to sleep (despite being REALLY tired, and paying for lack of sleep in a. pain and b. voracious eating the next day), because I keep thinking of a new project idea.

    Problem? 1. physically, writing much will be difficult and 2. it's a totally new idea, in a genre (YA) I never had considered writing. But the concept lends itself to that. (It is also supernatural, another thing I never considered, really, but - the idea is drawing me in.) It has some great potential for humor, too, which I am drawn to.

    So now, I'm seriously considering writing this very different story. Instead of falling asleep.

    You can decide if that is a good or bad idea. But tonight, a folder, paper and pencil are going to be in bed with me.

  4. Linda, that sounds like a great idea. Natalie Whipple had a great post about sticking to your passion despite what genre it happens to lurk in.

    As for the physical limitations...maybe you could have one of the boys take notes for you? You could call this the brainstorming stage!

  5. I really don't think I could. I would feel too - awkward, I guess, speaking the story outloud. I will be fine with paper and pencil. I wrote a goodly portion of ACN's first draft that way. It's - cozy. :-)

  6. Haha :) You know what, I think this is probably the one piece of advice that is most important to keep reminding ourselves. I've been trying to do Stephen King's 1000 words a day thing, and its mostly been working, but its hard to keep it up. But you're right, the actual writing is the important thing.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  7. Sarah: Welcome to my blog! It was a nice surprise to come home from work to a new follower!

    I manage the word count's the interest that lags for me sometimes. Keep going with the word count though!

  8. Great post... it's so true. I'm going through a bout of "giving up" myself actually. Though, for me, I've always tended to flip-flop between interests depending on the season.

    I know it sounds silly, but sometimes a long break is what you need to carry on. I'll stop writing now, but (sure enough) as soon as the weather changes I'll be cracking open the file-cabinet and pulling out that manuscript again... hopefully dusting off the blog too. ;)

    Good to see you're still writing!