Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Story is in the details

“Anybody can become a writer, but the trick is to stay a writer” - Harlan Ellison

Was he talking to me? I think he might have been. This is a really important idea he’s putting out there—staying a writer is what makes you a writer.

I am only sort of a writer, I guess. I am writing these days. A lot more on a regular basis than I have in ages. But if I’m being honest with myself, I’m not doing the writing that will make me a writer. At least not much of it. Yes, blog posts are good. They help get my name out there, get people reading me (I hope!). But I still haven’t been working on my stories. And without the stories, I’m not going to manage to stay a writer.

Happily, there are remedies to my problem. I am currently reading Eric Maisel’s new book A Writer’s Space—Make Room to Dream, to Work, to Write. It’s a wonderful book. So much insight, and so many useful, practical ideas for ways to become a writer and stay a writer. Right now, the idea that is resonating with me the most, the one that I can just feel is the most important for me to focus on, is the idea of making a detailed plan.

Detailed. Of course! I should have realized. I write “writing” on my “to do” list most days. And some days I even manage to check it off and feel satisfied that I got in some real writing. But I don’t put down the details of what I’m going to write that day.

A Writer’s Space recommends saying “I am going to write today” and then listing what that means—how long, during what times, what exact bits you’re going to work on, exactly what activities you are going to do to further your writing life.

Details. The things that make for good writing also make you a writer! So simple, so obvious, so overlooked all these years (at least by me). I think I feel an epiphany coming on. Better yet, I think I feel some writing coming on…


Phiala said...

Robin Hobb says watch out for the blogs:

but feel free to use Neil Gaiman as a counterexample:

In the book line, I recently read _The Creative Habit_ by choreographer Twyla Tharp, and highly recommend it. She echoes what many writers have said - make your writing time a regular time, so that your brain just knows it's time to go to work. Every morning, or at lunch, or whatever, but be consistent.

Easier said than done, of course.

Kim said...

"Robin Hobb says watch out for the blog"

I think as a writer what I need is more of finding the balance between writing stories and doing the blogging and website work that will help me build an audience and market myself and my work. This is something Maisel addresses in his book--plan and detail time for writing and time for marketing. I just haven't struck my balance yet, but I think I can be forgiven since I just started last week! *grin*

"make your writing time a regular time"

It always sounds good, but then I always end up finding that my world doesn't work that way. And I also end up feeling cranky with having to stick to the same schedule day in and day out. I find that telling myself I must write for X amount of time or write X number of pages in a given day and then letting my schedule sort of build itself around that works pretty well. Now I just have to do this more regularly when it isn't November!

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