Saturday, June 16, 2012
When you're a writer, you WRITE! Full stop!
Didn't get to post my usual progress Friday report yesterday because I was on the final lap of finishing Transient Hearts. Finished Chapter 9 on Thursday, and I was just one chapter short of the end. No matter that this chapter would surely clock in at 5K+, I knew I had to finish it yesterday. I couldn't take the risk of stopping halfway and pushing this into next week, where I knew I would lose my drive if I didn't go insane from not writing during the weekend. And no, I cannot write in weekends because a) it's family time, and b) that's when I allow myself a break too.
So there I was staring at the last 4-5 scenes that made up the outline of the last chapter. Beside a note here and there that H does this and h does that while H speaks with cousin and h gets a call from home, I didn't have more prompts to write this one. Which is why it was daunting, and why I found myself for the past few days mulling over this chapter and how it was supposed to take place based on those notes I had penned and the synopsis I had sent in with my proposal.
There's something strangely weird about figuring out everything that's to happen in your story, even down to the last detail. I'm a complusive plotter - I plan and plan and plan, yet when I write, the story will almost always 'turn' on me and something I hadn't expected happens or gets said.
Here I was yesterday morning, with that chapter set in my mind, yet at the same time I had no clue what I was doing. I simply sat down and started writing, and lo and behold, I got that chapter done... to the point where I even wrote "The End" on the last line of that ms.
I did mention this in my "I wrote 10K in a week" post last Friday, but I'll say it again here. All it takes is you sitting down and starting to write. That's the first step; that's the only step. You're a writer so your job is to simply sit down and start writing.
After seeing what I've been able to do these past two weeks, I no longer believe in writer's block and all those things we tell ourselves is blocking us. Here's what I mean:
I've gone weeks when the most I wrote was 1K, 2K at best. I kept telling myself I couldn't do any better, that the story wasn't flowing, that I'd lost my way with the characters, that I needed to think it all through again.
In the past 2 weeks, I've written over 25K on this story.
10,061 words last week;
16,886 words this week.
In the middle of all this, I was battling a cold with a super-runny nose, a sore throat, an ear infection, and consequently pain in my jaw and sinuses. The weather was a total bitch - if I managed to see 4 hours of sunlight this week, I'll count myself lucky. My husband was working on another job site that had him out of the house for 14+hours a day, leaving me to deal with the kid/s single-handedly without a hand to help with homework, fight breaking, dinner preps, and getting everyone ready in the morning.
I realized that I'm a writer, and a writer writes. Full stop. Yes, the deadline on my head contributed to that, but seriously? If we say we are writers, then our job is to write. Writing is not a hobby. When you have a job out there in the corporate world in an office or on site or wherever, what do you do every single work day? You buck up, get on with it, and head to work, where you work. What's any different when you're a writer (except that you don't have to get out of your PJs)???
The answer is Nothing!
If you are a writer, it's your job to write, and you better do it every single day whether you feel like it or not! The first step - the only step - you have to take is to start writing!
And just like an accountant brushes up on tax laws when tax season creeps up, or when a lawyer reads his case file notes over and over before stepping into a courtroom, as a writer it's your job to make sure you know what you are doing. This means knowing what story you are writing, what your characters are like - how they think, behave, react, where they are starting and where they should end, and most importantly, how they get there. You don't have to become an anal plotter like I am, but it would certainly help you to know what the heck you're doing with a story instead of simply having an idea of boy-meets-girl; let's see where they take me. If you're writing as a hobby, then you can afford to do that. Not if you consider yourself first and foremost a writer! Otherwise, you'd thus start in London and then find yourself in Paris with no clue how you got there, and have to backtrack to find that way. But instead of landing back in London, you find you're now in Cornwall, where the story should've taken place all along. Or, wait - is that Yorkshire? If you'd known your journey, thought it through even a little, you could've ended up in Yorkshire directly without the need to visit all these places and scrape all those trips from the final journey.
I'm no different a writer than you are, peeps. I'm a wife, a mother, a whiner, a procrastinator, a TV-show junkie, and there's nothing I love more than a day of doing nothing.
But I know I also chose to become a writer, and now it's no longer merely a choice but a responsibility I took with myself, with my publishers, my editors, and more importantly, with my readers. I cannot let any one of these people down... just like you too cannot.
It doesn't matter what you have to do to start writing. Polish your craft, learn the art of writing, read like a fiend, plot out every single detail, know your H/h better than you know your spouse...
Just write! That's the secret!
That's how I finished Transient Hearts, how I conquered my doubt demons and came up with an ms that sits at 61,186 words on the 1st draft. Just by writing!
You too can do it!
From Mauritius with love,