Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On the importance of writers writing

I got an email today from a friend I admire greatly--she is a fantastic writer and an incredibly kind person. Her email, among other things, touched on the fact that she hasn't written in almost two years, something I can certainly relate to (as can [almost] every writer!). It is so easy to get in the habit of not writing, isn't it? I've fallen into it time and again over the years, and it is only through some kind of outside encouragement that I have typically managed to get myself to write frequently (though never entirely regularly) -- things like contests, creative writing courses, etc.

Lately, though, in writing my novel, I've been incredibly motivated to write (whether because I'm excited about the novel, nervous about the outcome, scared it'll be awful, or just feel accountable now that I've told so many people about it, I'm not sure). Whatever the reason, this semi-regular writing has been great for me. I can feel my thoughts coming in more clearly and the words going down more eloquently, I feel more motivated to start writing in the first place (something that only infrequently happened before), and I find my confidence improving (merited or not).

This of course brings me back to the old schpiel every writer is tired of hearing and yet needs to hear again: Writing often is so important for writers! I don't mean writing regularly or writing on a rigid schedule, because sometimes it really isn't possible, and sometimes we really are too busy, and you know what, not everyone works that way. But often, say, once a day, once a week, once every other week. Certainly more often than once a month or once a year! Set your own pace, writers, and make it a modest pace at first--but then speed it up, write more often, make sure you're letting that inner voice out.

Why? Writers are so important. Writers can start revolutions, writers can bring about peace. Writers see a certain depth in the way the world works, in life and death, that other people don't see. And I believe that we, as writers, have a responsibility to share our thoughts and make use of our talents. It may not be for the greater good; not everyone is going to be famous. But you never know! Someday, one person (or two, or three) might have a sudden epiphany while reading your writing. Maybe it'll stop someone from crying, maybe it'll make someone laugh. (Hell, I'd settle for my writing just entertaining someone for a short while!)

But really: talent is such a sad thing to waste.

(Hey, here's a meta thought: Maybe I encouraged someone to write by writing this! Maybe that person is going to be the next amazing, famous writer! Positive thoughts, people, I'm trying to think positive.)


In unrelated news, in case anyone was wondering, the overwhelming response I got from people about my last post (both here and on Twitter) was that I should finish writing the whole novel before revising. (Sigh.) So I haven't started the revision process yet and am still attempting to slog through the incredibly difficult mire that is the ending of my book, which just does not want to be written. Argh. It is a long, slow-going process, unfortunately. I'm more a fan of those sections of the book that just seem to race out of me, to be honest.... Ah, well. More on that another time.

If you're reading my blog, please leave comments and let me know! Do you like it? Is it interesting? Boring? Not engaging enough? Is there something you think I should focus on, or that you would like me to discuss? I'm thinking of writing about the merits of editing next time (seeing as that's my day job and all). What can I do to attract more readers and/or keep people coming back? Any and all advice is welcome! :)


  1. Huzzah! I find I don't have to write every day, but I write best and fastest when I am averaging 5000-7500 words per week. That means one short story a week or about 1000 words a day of novel output (often in 2000 word chunks on every other day... that sort of thing).

    I'm glad you're pushing through rather than going back to revise. I got horribly stuck toward the end of book 2 of Magic University. All writers block boils down to a failure of confidence, whether in your writing or in something in the book. In this case I was not confident that certain elements of the ending were going to work or be liked by my editors. In the end I had to just write what I was resisting and figure I could change it later after I pushed through to find out everything that was lurking in my subconscious. In the end, my editors loved it and it turned out my subconscious was right all along, and I should have listened to it in the first place. :-) The next book sped out in record time.

  2. As a writer , you need to exercise the writing muscle or it gets neglected.

    I think your blog has interesting, honest posts. I wouldn't worry too much about layout and widgets, as long as its clutter-free. I like widgets and fiddling with the html code on my blog, but hey thats just me

  3. Hi Jennifer. I just discovered your blog surfing the interwebs. Concerning your last two posts, you definitely should finish before revising. Having two unpublished NaNoWriMo novels under my belt, finishing them helped clarify what I need to do with revising them.

    One note of caution though: after finishing the first draft, you may have to get over another hump: the revision hump. Yes, finishing a first draft is an awesome experience, but you're nowhere near done yet. One of the reasons my novels remain unpublished is that I hate revising and editing. It seems like work. You may not have the same problem (or it might be less) as you have editorial experience. But I do not and one of the struggles I have is sitting down and doing the hard work of revising and editing.

  4. Sorry for the late response, everyone!

    Cecilia: Your point that "All writers block boils down to a failure of confidence, whether in your writing or in something in the book" is SO spot on. I am just not confident enough! Thank you for this gem of advice.

    Ee Leen, thank you so much for your comment. I first read your comment weeks ago, and when you said, "I think your blog has interesting, honest posts", it REALLY stuck with me. I hope I continue to be interesting and honest!

  5. Shawn Erin,

    Thank you for the advice! I'd like to say that the revision stage won't be too bad for me since I'm an editor, but you know... everything changes when it's your own writing! And since I'm not at that stage yet, I really just have to hope, I guess. And I'll keep you posted! (Ha ha, posted, get it?)

    I do think that my problem, too, is the actually getting myself to sit down and just do the hard work. Writing is so much fun, but I tend to happily ignore how much WORK it really is...!