Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Just Write

“I think the hardest part is getting a draft finished. It’s important to stop thinking about writing and just write. It’s something I grapple with every day—stop thinking, start writing.” ~ Sara Gruen (From a Writer’s Digest interview with Sara Gruen, the author of the bestseller Water for Elephants.)

This quote hit me hard today. Probably because this is something I’m working with right now, my hesitancy to actually write. I am struggling with it, only half sure of the reasons for it, and it seems like everywhere I turn someone is telling me “just write.”

Just write. How? I don’t know. I want to be working on my novel. Novels. I am not working on them.

I have some ideas of things I can or should be doing to get back into them—reread the last 50 pages, do some character work to get a better handle on who my people are and what they would really do in various situations. I am not doing any of this either.

My hesitancy might hint at some deep-seated fears. They might. I’m sure there are fears hanging around in there. I can feel some of them, especially the fear that the book won’t be any good (Duh! First draft generally equals not so good) and the fear that I won’t know how to do good revisions and make a not so good book into something publishable.

I don’t think these are the reasons I’m not writing. Or at least not the main reasons. I think I am not writing because I have a habit of not writing. And possibly (probably) the idea of breaking that habit by writing something important to me—like my novels—is a bit too daunting.

I do know the way out of this. Writing. More specifically, writing practice. Various subjects, free writing, non-stop for 15 or 20 minutes a day. Over and over, every day, until the dam breaks. And then the novels can begin again.

I have brushed past this knowledge a few times in the past months. I don’t want this to be the thing I need to do. I want to be working on my stories. But that isn’t happening, and I need to break out of this not-writing habit. So, writing practice. This week and next week. Every day. 15 minutes.

To make myself feel better, I will allow research, character work, notes about my stories while I’m doing this. But I’m not going to actually do any writing for them. Not yet. May 5. I can start story writing then for the next Book-In-a-Week session.

I think I’ll use writing prompts as my starting points. I generally enjoy them, and they’re a good way to keep the focus on just writing and stay away from story (and isn’t forbidding myself from writing story just a fabulous way to build the desire?). Time to check out my favorite prompt site, Toasted Cheese, and get started.

4 comments:

Jenn said...

It's interesting that you see writing prompts as a way to keep the focus away from story, because I tend to see them as windows into story. Daily writing practice is a great goal, regardless. Good luck!

Kim said...

"jenn said...

It's interesting that you see writing prompts as a way to keep the focus away from story, because I tend to see them as windows into story. Daily writing practice is a great goal, regardless. Good luck!"

For me, it seems to depend on the prompt. Many of them lead me into new stories, which is okay for what I'm doing here. What I'm mostly trying to do is not work on my current stories until I am back into the regular writing habit enough that I can get some good, deep writing without stalling constantly. Thanks for the luck!

Ælfswyđ said...

Writing prompts--to work on the habit of writing without all the attendent hang-ups of working on Something Important. "Just writing" thus becomes easier, plus before long the Inner Artist Child says, "Hey, I'd rather work on the Real Thing...because I'm not supposed to." And the excitement that made you start in the first place will overcome the worries that developed.

Laura said...

This is the login I meant to use...

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