Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Writing Process: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Word (Part 1)

Getting to the Desk

The hardest part for me is getting myself to sit down and write. I have yet to find a tried-and-true, works-every-time method. So my explanations should be taken with a grain of salt. Bear with me as I try to enumerate how I write, when I'm just barely beginning to figure it out for myself.

The most exasperating advice, and irritatingly, often the most accurate, is this: just sit down and write. Have writer's block? Sit down and write. Put one word in front of the other, just like learning to walk, and eventually you'll be striding confidently along. This was advice given during the pep talks of NaNoWriMo, which actually helped me quite a bit. It doesn't matter if you go back and erase or edit most of it. The point is, you got past the writer's block by sheer force of will. It's quite a feeling of accomplishment. Okay, yes, but since we both know that it takes more than that, how do I actually get myself to sit down and write?

Sometimes, it's inspiration. I have an idea, or just an itch that tells me that I want to and need to write. It's a tingly, jumpy feeling, mixed with a bit of dreaminess, and I love it.

Sometimes, people ask me about my writing, which makes me think of it, which leads me to sit down and try it out.

Sometimes I've been reading something wonderful and I just want those beautiful words to have come from me, and it leads to the above-mentioned tingly feeling of inspiration. I have to be careful with this one, though, because if I've been too immersed in a certain author, that author's voice tends to come out. You should have seen me after I finished reading Catcher in the Rye.

Sometimes I'm bumming around on the computer, and either happen upon some of my writing, or a mention of writing online. This leads to the inspiring feeling of I-could-be-writing! And sometimes I even try it out.

Helpful so far? Probably not. So I will tell you this:

When I scold myself for not writing, and actually manage to force myself to do it, I rarely end up writing much, if anything, and rarely anything good.

When I realize that I could be writing, that I could use this time to create new worlds, new people, and I face the excitement of delving into new stories and ideas without knowing what is going to happen, and I have the time and ability to sit down and write, that is when fun things happen.

I'm learning that, as it turns out, getting myself to write seems to largely be about word choice, just like writing is. Once again, writing and life seem to go hand-in-hand. I love it when that happens. That realization also helps.

The realization that writing matters, that my words and stories can make a difference, that writing can be, often is, an intimate reflection of life, and a vehicle for learning about reminds me why my dreams are not silly, and petty, and inconsequential to the rest of the world. As far-fetched as it may be, I have to be reminded that I May Have An Effect On The World. That is very important in making myself write. So if something brings that back to mind, it refuels the fire of my determination, and it can (less abstractly) lead me straight to my desk.

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