Thursday, May 22, 2008

Writing, butts, and joy

I spent most of my writing time yesterday hacking up my existing ms for "Sacrifice." I saved what I'd had under a different file name first, of course. When I do that, I almost never have to go back to that old draft for anything. On the few occasions I have neglected to do so, I inevitably regret it. We'll just call it insurance. In the course of mucking around in the guts of this story, I reached a couple of conclusions.

1. This story would like to be called "Crowmaker" from now on, Lori. Get with it, change the file name, and start calling it by its proper name. Yeesh, writers.

2. I still really like this world. And the people who live in it. They came out of their houses to greet me when I strolled back into town, just like I'd never left. I am enjoying their story. I think about it when I go to bed at night and look forward to waking up and working on it the next day. Will this euphoria last forever? Undoubtedly not--it's always work, no matter what, and since I've gotten all the "inspired, just slap it on the paper" scenes out of the way, it's bound to be rough going even more so. But I want this story. I want it enough to not care if anyone else ever wants it.

Those were the revelations about the story itself. I read a couple of things recently that probably played into my thoughts, or at least helped me clarify them. Falconesse's blog entry of the other day included a link to a post which defined ye olde "butt in chair" method of writing--not the first time I'd heard the phrase, but the most recent. The gist of it is, thou shalt park yourself in front of your computer every day and WRITE and nothing else for two hours, the same two hours, every day, or else. I agree with this sentiment, in that at some point that's what you have to do--you have to just DO it.

But then there's this from the Writer Beware Blogs.

"In a way, though, I found myself envying the writers at the Oklahoma OWFI Conference. I envied their joy in the simple act of creating. I envied how much fun they all seemed to be having. The Oklahoma writers weren't nearly as FOCUSED, weren't nearly as driven as the SFWA members.

"Not that either group was "right," or "wrong" in their approach. Just different. But I came away from Oklahoma with a resolution to take more joy in just creating. I think it's possible to lose sight of the joy of creation when writers become too obsessed with publication."
There's a fine line between wanting to write and feeling you have to write. I lost myself for a while in that obsession over publication, in large part because I felt that I had to become commercially successful in order to justify the time I spent writing, which was in turn wrapped up in larger and unrelated personal issues. I finally hit the point where I just didn't even care if I wrote or not. Now that I've begun working out those larger personal issues, I feel less pressure to BE a writer, and NOW, or it's a waste of time. And I'm remembering what I loved about it to begin with.

So, while I agree with the "butt in chair" sentiment, I don't feel that it has to be as inflexible as "the two same hours every day" rule in order to work. The key is in knowing yourself and your life and being able to schedule your time accordingly--and then loving it enough to make yourself stick to YOUR schedule. The ability to forgive yourself when you inevitably fall off the schedule for a day or week or year is handy, too. Instead of wasting time berating yourself for your failure or just giving up because obviously you're completely lacking in willpower, just give yourself a hug, tell yourself it's OK, and climb back into the chair. In the long run, it'll leave you more time for writing.

And joy.

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