ofstarsandstone ([personal profile] ofstarsandstone) wrote2010-09-03 11:07 am

Writing as Life

I've been telling stories my whole life, and writing them down ever since I learned how to make my letters in kindergarten. In middle school one of my English teachers recognized my crazy writer tendencies and allowed me to forego the daily writing prompts in her class in order to focus on writing a fantasy novel. I also wrote a mystery short story that year that got an honorable mention in a young writer's contest.

That little bit of encouragement sealed the deal for me. Ever since, I've allotted countless hours to the craft of writing. It's become an obsession and a desire and one of the greatest loves of my life.

Starting in 2001, I joined in with a bunch of other crazy writers on this thing called NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. In the thirty days of November, several thousand writers around the world attempt to write an entire 50,000 word novel. This goes on every year and the number of writers participating has grown exponentially. I've won twice or three times since that first year, and the experience has taught me writing discipline. To win NaNo, you have to write every day. You have to push through blocks and shove the words out on the paper until the story is done. When the story has been wrenched from the depths of your mind and is flourishing on the page, you can edit and revise at your leisure.

NaNoWriMo taught me the most important writing lesson: if you want to be a writer, you have to make it a part of your life every day, no matter if the writing is good or if it is crap. At least you're still writing.

And the beauty of it is, once you're in the habit of writing every day, you feel unsettled and unfulfilled on the days when real life interferes with your writing. You start writing because you have to, because it's what you do, not because of the muses or a whim.

Not that writing is easy just because you do it every day. Writing is hard, but it's worth every bead of sweat and every drop of blood.

Writing is my life, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Welcome to my writing journal.

[identity profile] pwwka.livejournal.com 2010-09-05 03:43 pm (UTC)(link)
I've begun to wonder about the writing-every-day thing. Yes, it's good to form a habit, and once that habit is there, a word-count goal is easier. But lately, it seems like whenever I force myself to write on a down day, I just write crap. And I know it's crap. I delete it anyway, or put it in the crap folder. A few weeks ago, I tried writing on up days or ok days, but letting my down days be resting-time. I haven't noticed a big change in my productivity, up or down, but at least now more of what I write is quality. I still tell everyone to write every day, but I'm afraid I'm rather the hypocrite, unless you count blogs and correspondence. Then again, I'm coming at it with a short story angle. Like a sprinter. Write-every-day is probably good cross-country advice, so I shouldn't knock it until I write a novel. What are your own experiences with word counts and motivation?

[identity profile] alisandre.livejournal.com 2010-09-05 07:22 pm (UTC)(link)
That's a good way of putting it- like a sprinter versus cross-country. Because I can write a short story in a month (including revision), but a novel, even at 1500 words a day, still takes me around six months. Or more, depending on how much revision I need to do. So when you're looking at that big of a timespan, you really need to keep pushing the word count every day.

There are many derivations on this quote, but the basic idea is that you can't grow flowers in air, but you can grow some beautiful ones in crap. All of those "crappy" pages are just fertilizer, and somewhere in there are the seeds of your story.

But I don't always work on the same project every day, and I include my writing for class in my writing time. Anything that gets me sitting down at a keyboard and composing is fair game.