Thursday, November 7, 2013
Making it Work
Some days I work well under fire. The pressure of a looming deadline is enough to burn out the detritus. I throw words down, caring more about the getting there than the how.
Other days, I follow a meandering path. The feel of an idea tugs me along, begging to be expressed. The what of the work is more important than how far it takes me.
Still other days, I might as well throw darts at the dictionary and see how many times I can use the skewered word in a paragraph before the sight of it turns my stomach. At least doing so would result in sentences being produced.
I've breezed through 2500 words in one sitting just to struggle with 500 the next.
Conventional wisdom tell us to write every day. Doesn't matter what or how much. Just hit the page.
But if, on those slow days, it takes me four hours to get those 500 words down, wouldn't my time have been better spent doing something else? Planning a challenging scene to come? Making notes for potential revisions? Networking? Blogging? Research?
And that doesn't even take into account the spontaneity of life.
For those of us who live in a world where we're forced to pursue our dreams part-time or not at all, writing everyday is not only impractical but impossible.
Thus, the insistence that we must do so in order to be "real writers" serves only to heap on guilt and doubt. And we can do that to ourselves without any outside help.
So what's a more realistic alternative?
Do what works for you.
Each writer is different and works from a different environment. It should go without saying that we'll all approach the work in different ways and at different paces. Yet we're told to adhere or have our pen privileges revoked in the name of protecting the efforts of "serious writers."
If you have to take notes through the week and power write on your day off, do it. If you need to spend months on a super-detailed, moment-by-moment outline, have fun. If you need a little less (or a lot less) structure, go with it.
Every trick and technique in the world is a tool, not a taskmaster. Make them work for you.