On Writing Processes, Old Dogs and New Tricks, Changing Horses Mid-stream and Mixed Metaphors

The blinding moment of clarity I had this week came as a result of some VanderMeerish sagacity.

You see, post-Clarion I’ve been trying to become one of those writers who write something every day. Every damned day. That’s in addition to doing the things that are attached to the business of being writerly: checking submissions, accepting rejections, dancing in an undignified fashion when one makes a sale, sending rejected stories back out into the world with chin set in pugnacious manner, writing blogs like this, talking to other writers in a group therapy kind of fashion – y’know, writerly stuff.

So I tried getting up early, sitting at the laptop, pecking out a few words, trying to get them in the correct order for a sentence … trying to make ’em fit into a story or the novel. And you know what? I really, really suck at that. Really. I hate early mornings. My brain does not even deign to speak to the rest of me until it’s had two cups of coffee, and even then it says things like “Why the HELL are we walking around?” Yes, I have been a writer at war with myself. And as this change of process has not been taking I’ve felt like a failure. Not just as an old dog who’s failing to learn new tricks, but failing as a writer. I don’t like failing.

And this is where the VanderMeerish wisdom comes in: The Man Himself asked how it was all going. So I actually had to think about why I was Grumpy in Writersville, and that made me realise I was grumpy coz of the above ‘failures’. Then he said two very important things: (a) you don’t have to change your process – the old one’s been working fine, and (b) don’t feel guilty when you don’t write.

Wise man. I am not an every day kind of writer. I am a blurter. I spend a lot of time not writing per se, but I am percolating: ideas are bubbling away in the mess that is my brain, I am scribbling notes, I’m thinking. When the time is right, then I sit down and blurt out six or seven thousand words in a day. And because they’ve had time to cook, those words are often quite good.

So, no messing with the process. No new tricks. Don’t change horses mid-stream. And don’t mix your metaphors. Onward and upward.

Percolating in progress.

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0 Responses to On Writing Processes, Old Dogs and New Tricks, Changing Horses Mid-stream and Mixed Metaphors

  1. Liz Adkins says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about how I write, and how I manage to fit writing into the rest of my life, since I got back. I don’t write everyday, it’s that simple. On the other hand, I will write notes, or think about the story, bitch to my partner about it etc. more often than not.
    I think guilt might get you to the computer, but may also paralyse you before you get there more often than not. Going there because you have something to say is a much better reason – in the absence of contracts or financial incentives. 🙂

  2. Tara Maya says:

    Interesting. I wonder if I have been doing the same thing to myself. On the one hand, I feel good if I can look back at the end of the day and say, “Well, I wrote thus-and-such many words.” On the other hand, it’s not always just about word count.

  3. angelaslatter says:

    I think I work best when I can see a big chunk of wordage and know that I’ve been working up to that for a while. A little bit of wordery each day just doesn’t feel satisfying for me – then again, everyone’s different! 🙂