Whitehall
Whitehall Palace – All that remains today is the Banqueting Hall   

I have to admit, this writing business is really tough for me.  It comes as no surprise though–otherwise, I would've written a novel a long time ago.  From what I gather, it's tough for everyone, or most people, who give it a go.  The animosity I have for it is only slightly less overwhelming than the compulsion to do it, so I slowly move forward, despite my doubts and fear of failure.

You might ask why I would even try to do something that is so obviously difficult for me?  For that, I have no answer.  I have always lived very much in my head (which is a curse), and I have always constructed stories and scenes in my mind.  I have also always loved reading and am happiest when I am consumed by a good book.  I have considered myself a writer since I was young–it didn't matter that I was a writer who didn't write.  Turning 40 was important for me in that I was finally able to see the future as remaining fertile with possibilities, but that it wouldn't be forever.  That's not quite right–the future will be full of possibilities as long as I am alive–I firmly believe that.  But as I grow older, opportunities might lessen, illness might intervene, one never knows.  I do have today, however, and probably tomorrow, and so the time has come to write.

This time around, I'm doing a lot better at it.  I'm not sure of my word count but it's getting close to 20,000 if it's not there already.  I've got several scenes written, some of which are complete enough to call chapters.  All of this is great progress for me, since previous attempts at writing anything have not amounted to even a chapter and I generally got stuck in the world of outlines and character bios.

My writing process is very simple.  Originally I would sit at my computer with an open document struggling to find words–any words–and I would find myself constantly deleting and backspacing, editing myself as I went along.  I also constantly struggled against the desire to check my email or CNN.com or one of a dozen or more other websites that I commonly use to waste time.  Even as I write this post it is difficult for me not to check my email even though I checked it not five minutes ago.  It's a problem.

It wasn't until I got a legal pad and pen and went into the living room with a scene in mind that the writing really started to flow.  I sit and I let the words flow as quickly as they want to.  I'll admit to crossing things out and re-wording them now and then, but it is far easier for me to write without censoring myself on this yellow pad than it is in front of the computer.  Four or five written pages later and I have close to my daily goal of 1000 words, and I go to my computer, open a document, label the scene and type what I have first written by hand.  This process allows for some editing as I go, but I am much less concerned about it since the words are WRITTEN.  The only way I am going to have a first draft is to write, and so that is what I do.

What I notice mostly at this point is that I am deficient in my descriptions.  It's as if I want to dispense with the necessity of describing a person or place and get right to the action.  This might be due to my "background" in screenwriting.  I'm not worried about it though.  There will be time enough for describing a room or an outfit when I get around to writing my second draft.  All I want, all I dream of, at this point, is a finished first draft.  I will have it before I am 41.

One Reply to “Shut Up and Write”

  1. Antoinette says: January 15, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    I think you made some great points about how distracting it can be to do your writing on a computer (though every writer I know does just that.)
    Sadly, all the published writers I know tell me that it never gets easier. You never feel like you’ve written “enough” and your book is only “done” when your agent (or publisher) tells you to stop. I think that’s true of a lot of artforms however.
    Good for you for taking the initiative to begin. That’s the hard part. Living life to the fullest is very important, and a full time job if done correctly.
    Good luck with the writing!

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