January 5th, 2013

Me 2012

Blah Blah Blah Writing

Gosh, it's been so long since I last blathered about the writing process! Like, not since October. I am obviously due.

Since some of my friends have been making noises about dreamwidth again, and since I already have an account there for the Post Captain read, I'm experimenting with their crosspost feature. We'll see how that goes. For the two of you who follow me on Dreamwidth: hi there!

[personal profile] djinni linked to an interesting blog post about writing: How I went from Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day. Now, for me, 2,000 words a day is pretty ambitious on its own; I'd be happy if I consistently wrote 500. Even so, it's an interesting read.

Some things were strikingly different from my own experience. For example, she can routinely figure out what to write in a few minutes of thinking and taking notes. For me, I generally decide what to write in one of two ways. The Easy Way is by daydreaming about my story while I'm doing something else: exercising, taking a shower, walking to work, etc. If that doesn't work, I can do the Hard Way: take notes and talk myself through a scene. The Hard Way is very time-intensive for me -- if I can't figure out what I want to write on the walk to work or by just diving straight in, then jotting down notes is not quick either.

The other thing that struck me is the variability of her words-per-hour rate. My words-per-hour rate for fiction is 800. IIRC, it is pretty much 800 regardless of how I feel about the project: when I am super-excited, it's maybe 1000. When I am bored and lost, it's 750. If I spend 15 minutes writing, I write 200 words. If I spend two hours writing, I write 1600 words. My main difficulty with writing is motivation (this is too hard I will go play another game of Dominion), not finding the time. I have plenty of time to write. I am inveterately lazy.

Enthusiasm is, however, an excellent motivator, and it's one of the things the author of that blog post mentions prominently. I should work on that. I am not entirely sure how to work on that.

This reminds me of two things I wanted to mention in my post on 2013 goals:

First: I want to improve my writing, not just do more of it. So doing creative writing exercises and experimenting with different processes and whatnot should be something I count as productive use of creative time.

Second: I was looking at my old journal entries a while back and stumbled across this one, written in 2006, shortly after I finished the draft of Silver Scales. And this is a long excerpt, but it's important to me:

Averaging one book every two and a half years is slow by the standards of most authors (although it's faster than George R. R. Martin has been doing with A Song of Ice and Fire, admittedly). John Ringo, who published his first book in 2001, has a total of 22 books published now, with at least one more coming out this year. Granted, nine of those books have co-authors, but even so, that's a lot of books for five years. I can't quite describe how it makes me feel to reflect on that. Not inadequate; perhaps longing. This thought: "If I could write that quickly, maybe I could get them all out. I wouldn't have to pick and choose which story to tell. I could tell them all." This thought: "If I only write one book every twenty-six months or so, how many will I be able to write before I die? How many ideas will die with me?" I wonder if John Ringo wonders about the ideas that will die with him, too. I bet he does. Perhaps stories breed like rabbits, and the more stories you manage to write, the more ideas you have for new stories.

These thoughts do not depress me. Oh no, I am not depressed. On the contrary, I am elated. In this moment, right here, right now, I am as happy as I have ever been in my life. Lut needed something faxed so we went to my workplace a few minutes ago so I could send it out. As we parked the car, as I walked back into my house, as I looked at the green growing weedy things all over my yard, I felt full of joy. In my kitchen with its cluttered counter and floor littered with grocery bags full of Diet Coke I hadn't yet put away, in my living room strewn with Tria markers and the picture of Easy I've been working on but still not finished, in my bedroom with the bedding I need to launder, in my den with this entry incomplete --

-- in each place is a reminder of things yet undone --

-- and in each place I find joy.

Time slips past me, moment by moment. With each thing I do, with each thing I do not do, it slides away. Fast or slow, it passes, all the same. I think: there is never enough.

I know: there is always more. That moment is gone; this one is here. The next one is waiting for me.

I want to do a hundred thousand things, but I only do one at a time. That's all right. Better than all right, in this world full of so many good things. In this moment, everything is possible.

And I am posting that whole excerpt because when I read those words again, I can feel it again, if not so intensely. That joy in potential, that serenity about the past. This, perhaps more than anything else, is my goal. To be glad for all the things I've done, to accept all the things I haven't done, to look forward to all the things I will do. I forgot about that. I don't want to forget it again.

Edit: Wow, the crosspost feature worked perfectly, and was trivial to set up. I am impressed.