Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On writing

I've been working on my great American apocalypse novel for about six months now. In that time I have written about 55,000 words and have discovered a few things about myself and writing in general. Here is the short list of what I never knew about writing until I began working on my book...

# 1 - Writing is work - Before starting my book I had been writing on my websites and blogs for over eight years. I thought that was good training but it doesn't compare very well to writing fiction. When I wrote for those blogs or sites I did it when and wanted and how I wanted. I never felt pressured to write anything and only posted on subjects I wanted to talk about and only then when in the "mood" and I had the time to do it "just right." Working on a novel you must constantly "stay on topic" and you must keep pushing yourself to write more, not unless you don't mind it taking 20 years to write your masterpiece.

# 2 - Writing is magical - When I first started I had this stupid romantic idea that the words would just "flow" out of me. That the book was already there inside my head and just "had to come out." I know - STUPID! It just doesn't come out of you. You actually have to make an effort; you actually have to work on things like plot and characters. You actually have to think if what you're writing makes sense. Writing can be magical at times, like when you want to say something and the words come out just as you imagined. But mostly writing is just a lot of hard work (see # 1).

# 3 - Writing is work, really - You can write, or you can WRITE. I've spent a lot of my time this first six months writing, which is to say constantly re-editing material. You do that and before you know it you've wasted a month "fixing" the chapter that was basically finished the month before. I have done that a lot since starting but I think I've finally grasped the concept. WRITING means creating new material, not just "polishing" the old. I guess what I'm saying is while writing is important, WRITING is the real work and needs to be done constantly (see # 1).

More random leakages from my brain to follow...

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