With Writing, What Exactly Is Special?
A nasty question I got a hunch I shouldn’t ask. Making a project, a chapter, a story special is a quick way to problems and critical voice issues.
Making the speed of writing a project special is also a problem I just fell into. And have fallen into a number of times over the last few years. I did a book of blog posts called Writing a Novel in Ten Days where I did my last ghost-written project.
Then I did another series of blogs into a book called Writing a Novel in Seven Days.
And then to make writing speed even more special, I just did the Write a Novel in Five Days While Traveling.
I made the numbers of hours I sat in a chair and typed something special.
If I could figure out a way to make special the numbers of hours I sit every week watching television, I would be rich. Or the numbers of hours I spend sleeping. Or exercising. Or doing the finances for WMG Publishing.
Yet I made the number of hours I sat in front of a computer making stuff up special and have sold a lot of those books over time, and I expect I will sell more.
Now, honestly, writing about how something was done does have value to writers coming in and working at the fight. I hope those three books I did, plus others such as Writing into the Dark and Heinlein’s Rules will help writers break out of fears and limits they have placed on their own writing.
So for that, I hope the books are special. But the typing itself shouldn’t be.
In other words, last week I wrote about the practice of writing a novel. And I hoped others would be interested in seeing how that was done, so I’ll put the blog posts about it together in another book.
There are a lot of magazines and books and such done in different areas about how to practice, how to get past limits. In our house every month comes a magazine on that topic. It’s called Runner’s World. A wonderful magazine for runners of all levels on how to practice, how to run, how to get faster and better.
I read it regularly, takes bits and pieces here and there, ignore lots of it because it isn’t right for me. I expect writers to do the same thing from my book and any of the other thousands of writing books out there.
So as I have been talking about (the last three nights in these posts) finding ways to get out of your own way with writing, to kill your own myths, it is important to watch out about making the time sitting in the chair special.
But at the same time, making something special in the process of typing can both help and set up new and different problems.
What is ideal?
Ideally, we all have gotten past all the things that stop us from writing, we all just enjoy the process of creating stories, we all have no problems just sitting at a computer and making stuff up.
And that ideal applies to exactly zero writers I know of for longer than a day or so at a time. Some might claim they are living the ideal, but don’t poke too hard or the bubble busts.
We all feel the ideal, all hit it, all enjoy it when it happens. And then reality smashes back in with a hidden voice from some workshop or a long-forgotten sentence from an English teacher or a self-doubt about value of work or numbers of sales or what will a mother say and on and on and on.
For me, I wish (ideally) that I could write without the distraction of trying not to be distracted. My biggest issue is after 40 plus years of doing this, I have been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.
I have most myths killed or whimpering in a corner, but the problem of distraction for me is the distraction.
Yet I love telling stories and doubt I will ever run out of stuff to make up. (How silly does that sound? (grin))
So one of the ways I get around my distractions is I make something special in the writing.
Like taking a poison to stop another poison.
So When We Are Writing, What is Actually Special?
I got a few ideas…
—Writing new words is special. Period. Nothing beyond that, nothing about the words or the content or the amount, just new words.
— Writing the story you want to tell is special. For many writers, they seldom give themselves the gift of actually telling a story they want to tell. Writing to market, fear, not feeling ready are three major reasons writers don’t just tell a story they want to tell. There are others.
—Enjoying the writing process is special. When I am sitting and living inside the characters and story I am telling, not paying attention to real-world-time passing, that is special. I don’t enjoy finishing a story or novel so much. And nothing really excites me about starting a project. But when I am just free and telling a story to myself, now that is special.
We All Fight Our Own Myths
Myths of fiction writing are the things that stop us or slow us down or make us write something we don’t want to write.
Some of us let the myths slow us down, let the myths control the writing.
Some of us fight the myths, sometimes winning, sometimes losing, but like falling off a horse, always climbing back on (eventually) after failure.
Sometimes we have to use one myth to beat back another. Making the simple act of sitting in a chair and making something up special is dangerous. That puts pressure on the creative part of the writing.
But at times we all use it with challenges, counting word counts, and so on.
But caution. If you only have a few hours a week to write and you make those hours special and put pressure on them, you might find it difficult to get started every writing session.
If you think that writing so many hours a day is the key to success and you make those hours important, you will soon find yourself not wanting to sit down.
And so on.
Again, caution on making the simple act of sitting in a chair and typing special or important. Instead, make the fact that you are creating something fun and original to you a special feeling.
Hunger for the feeling of creation.
You might find that focusing on the creation, not the sitting and typing, makes it a ton more fun.