Friday, May 19, 2006

Writing in Fits and Starts

I usually write my blog posts in the morning. I have a weird mechanism that wakes me up at 6. This morning, I was up at 4:30.

Typically, I test my blood sugar then and often find it to be out of range, but today, I was 79, which is right where I wanna be.

Since I couldn't fall back asleep, and the Mister was blissfully off in dreamland, I got up and worked on my book proposal, which is slow going but getting there. I got more done this morning than I have in awhile. I also worked from home this week and got a chunk of proposal work down on the page.

Composing full first drafts is the hardest part of writing for me. I love revising, researching, and most of all, love having written. Showing off my byline or articles, or seeing people comment on my blog posts, thrills me. But the writing itself is the toughest.

I work with words for a living, and used to write full time as a newspaper reporter. Then I got burned out and stopped. Now I have a job where I oversee others' writing, and when I get home after a full day of that, I'm usually too exhausted to focus on my own projects.

This bothers me, since my blog and book projects are, at present, far more interesting than most editorial jobs I've had. And as someone commented here in the past, I've actually had some cool jobs.

But right now, I'm most focused, mentally, on these personal writing projects. But without a paycheck or a harsh editor setting a deadline for me, it's hard to stay focused on the actual sit-my-ass-down-and-get-the-first-draft-out.

In part, I fear doing all the work of a proposal, or a novel, and sending it out and having publishers or agents say it isn't publishable. That I'll do a lot of work up front and it won't amount to anything.

But then I realize I've actually done a lot of research on the proposal already, and the novel's already a third down on paper. And one of the things I enjoy about blogging is how immediate the gratification is. I write something at 6am, and by the time I'm at work later that morning, someone's already read it and sometimes commented on it.

But since I get a paycheck from my day job, I have to focus on that during (most) of the time I'm at work.

Can anyone relate? Got any tips, other than "just sit and write every day"?


Shannon said...

I'm taking a workshop with Donald M. Murray (he writes for the Boston Globe) called Write Short, Write Quick.

He said that writers tend to have a writing span of about 90 minutes per day.

He said that when he works on a book, he sits down and for 90 minutes just writes. He never knows if what he's writing is any good, but he writes anyway.

I don't know if this will help you, but I figured I'd throw it out there just in case :)

Michko said...

I've often thought that the reason I haven't written my own Great American Novel is because I don't have someone telling me what to do. hrmph.

I feel your pain, though. As a copy editor, proofreader and all around magazine junkie, I often have little left at the end of the day for myself.

I think you're doing it right. You just have to sit down and do it. Try to be your own editor.

I keep a spiral notebook by my bed so I can jot down notes. There are so many times I think of something and say to myself that I'll file it away in my brain and remember it later, and I typically forget.

There's a story idea I'm working on and will often write notes in my notebook as I'm almost ready for bed. I remember thinking how awful my idea was and that no one in their right mind would want to read it. After a couple months of ignoring that idea, I went back to it, read my notes, and realized that it wasn't so bad after all.

So, I think the point of that was very similiar to what Shannon said: just sit down and do it and don't worry about how it sounds. just get all the ideas out. just sit down for whatever amount of time works for you. i had a teacher once tell us to turn our computer screens off and just write for a certain amount of time without stopping to read what we wrote.

Maybe write an outline?


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