Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Writing Wednesday: 1 Question 4 Answers

Good Morning!

I sent a tweet out yesterday (are we following each other? ) asking if there was a particular writing issue I should cover in today’s blog. Mangopickles (love that name!) offered this in response:

I would write about the struggle of wanting to write.

That’s a highly intriguing thought. The struggle could be a wide variety of things:

Finding the time to write
Knowing what to write
The translation between mind and paper
Wanting to write for a living

I’m sure there are plenty I missed, but I’m on my first cup of coffee :)

So let’s take a quick look at each, because I’m sure y’all are just as busy as I am!

Finding the time: Easy to say, but tough to do—force the world to leave you alone at a specific time. My best writing time is from 5-9am. I protect that time as best I can. Think about it though. You take the time to get your hair done, or work out at the gym. Maybe you even tell people not to call or interrupt your favorite television shows. Don’t be afraid to do that for your writing time. Make a schedule and keep it! :)

Knowing what to write: The answer is on your bookshelves. How ever many genres, styles, types and age—the books you keep all have one thing in common: you love them. Write what you love.

As an example: Gone with the Wind, The Stand, Strangers, and Swan Song are among my top hundred or so favorite books. They span many genres, yet they all have similarities: strong female leads who fight through a dramatic upheaval in their understanding of the world they thought they knew. Now, break down your favorites to their core and you’ll discover your passion.

The translation: This is a TOUGH one, and I’m not going to even pretend to have an answer. My advice, experience as much as possible about what you’re writing, and if you can’t—research like crazy. When you’re stuck, make a list of the senses and give one detail for each. I’ve never fallen through ice, but here’s an example:

Sight: murky depths, brightly lit ice ceiling
Sound: the noise heard when under water
Touch: the achy pins and needles my hands feel when in snow
Taste: lake water really cold
Scent: frozen fish?

Which then becomes:

Instantly the arctic water hit my skin with an ache of pins needles that lasted until I went frighteningly numb. The world turned upside down, the white of snowy ice above me, the deep blue green of a sky before a storm as far as I could see. Pressure changed every sound into a lapping burble as I kicked back toward the surface. Clinging green growth tangled around my foot. My mouth filled with the cold taste of the winter lake but despite my panic, I held my breath and didn’t scream.

So okay, maybe someone who has fallen through ice could tell me how I got it wrong, but it’s a good illustration of how you can take practical steps to help get those images in your mind down on paper.

Writing for a living: If you build it, they will come. Not helpful, I know, but it’s true. Write the best book you can, then make the next one even better, and the next even better and keep working the craft, growing your knowledge and creating a work that will allow you to write full time. This is a great motivator, a wonderful inspiration and I wish you the best on your journey.


Normal is Over. Find out why:
Fictionwise, Echelon Press, Amazon


Nick Valentino said...

I find it more and more interesting that many writers do their best work in the morning. Personally, I am a late night (Or even early morning) person. For me, that is when the creepy stuff comes out. Thanks for your insight!

Rie Sheridan Rose said...

Excellent summation, Jenny. get to work!

Christy said...

Good topic Jenny!

I am more confident in finding the time to write, knowing what to write and the translation between mind and paper, than I am in wanting to write for a living.

I am embarrassed to say that I have self-doubts.

- Would other people enjoy my writing to the point that they would take cash out of their pockets to purchase a book of mine?

- Can I withstand the constant rejection that so many writers endure and still keep working at it?

- Do I have the stamina and drive needed to successfully promote myself and my work?

So yes, I have these questions that sneak into my mind, along with these negative questions that nag at me, like....

- What does it matter? your work is not good enough anyway.

- Why even try? You know you are just playing around with words in your head. They have no real value.

- You are too old to start doing this now. You should have focused on this when you were twenty.

- What are you doing spending your days writing? You should snap out of it and look for a real job.

- Don't fool yourself, you even have family members who are much more talented in this area. Leave writing to the writers.

So you see, I'm not so sure that "if I build it, they will come".
But I know that while I have these doubts, I still am just indulging a desire to create with the written word. It's like making love, I'm wrestling around between the sheets with the written word and we are making a baby. What that baby will look like is another story. It may not be cute, but at least it will be mine as long as I don't let my doubts get the best of me.