It’s been a while since I sat down and wrote anything of substance, since any usable words came bursting forth to form a story.
Three months and sixteen days to be exact. That’s a long time for an author to go without any sense of creativity. Which is why today I have forced myself to sit down, in front of my computer, and write.
It hasn’t been easy. Each word written feels like an extraction, something pulled unwillingly from my head. (Yes, go ahead and make the association to a tooth extraction here, with all the excruciating pain, blood and gore involved. I have.)
But at least I managed to get something down. Just over a thousand words in fact. No, it’s not very much. (Especially compared to the previous blog post, written by Lexxie Couper.) But it’s something. I know that tomorrow I’ll sit down and rework the entire thing. Delete half of it and rewrite the rest, but that’s okay with me. At least for now I have something to delete and rewrite.
Having been stuck in this damn writer’s block for so long, I read Lexxie’s post with great interest, hoping to garner some brilliant tips and information to yank me out of my funk. Unfortunately, it didn’t inspire me the way it did Lex. And that got me thinking just how very different we authors are from one another. And how very different our writing processes are. For the record, on my absolute best days of writing, I have never gotten down more than 5000 words. And on those days, I’m usually so exhausted afterwards, the next day is spent in a haze where writing even a paragraph becomes impossible.
Now, back to Stephen King, I’d like to requote his words, so I can refer to them:
“Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft. You want to write a story? Fine. Put away your dictionary, your encyclopedias, your World Almanac, and your thesaurus. Better yet, throw your thesaurus into the wastebasket. The only things creepier than a thesaurus are those little paperbacks college students too lazy to read the assigned novels buy around exam time. Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule. You think you might have misspelled a word? O.K., so here is your choice: either look it up in the dictionary, thereby making sure you have it right – and breaking your train of thought and the writer’s trance in the bargain – or just spell it phonetically and correct it later. Why not? Did you think it was going to go somewhere? And if you need to know the largest city in Brazil and you find you don’t have it in your head, why not write in Miami, or Cleveland? You can check it … but later. When you sit down to write, write. Don’t do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off.”
Ok, so not only did this quote not inspire me, it had me hyperventilating by the second sentence:
“throw your thesaurus into the wastebasket.“
Hello? Put away my thesaurus? Are you kidding me? I’d use the same word fifty time in one page and sound so repetitive no one would want to turn that page to read the next. I use my thesaurus a lot. Tons. Heaps. Plenty. Oh so very much.
Then there’s Mr King’s thoughts about ignoring a misspelled word. Okay, have you ever worked in a word document, typed something, and immediately noticed that red squiggle under a word? I have. Very often. But please, don’t ask me to ignore it. Because honestly, once it’s up there on my screen, it’s about the only thing I can see. My gaze just keeps getting drawn back to that red squiggle, over and over, no matter how hard I might try to ignore it. In the end? I spend way more time trying not to pay attention to it, then I would have if I’d just corrected it there and then. So that’s what I do. I correct misspelled words when I misspell them and move on.
Oh, and about not knowing the largest city in Brazil? Sorry, but if it’s important enough to be in my book, than I won’t be able to get my thoughts past the name of the city. They’ll get stuck trying to work out what it is. Hey, it’s in my book for a reason. I need to know now, otherwise how can I carry on writing?
And finally there’s the bit about going to the bathroom. Hands up if you’ve ever been pregnant. C’mon. You know the drill: When you gotta go, you gotta go. No point sitting there, squirming knowing you have to go, but putting it off so you can write. Because let’s be honest. All you’d focus on is how darn much you need to go to the loo!
So while I envy every single word Lexxie completed this week, and while I wish to God I had achieved the same as she did, I simply can’t write like her, or like Stephen King for that matter. And I can assure you, they can’t write like I do. They’d go nuts, tearing their hair out in frustration. But maybe, hopefully, I’ll soon have one of my best writing days, and instead of just 1000 words, I’ll get out a number closer to 5000.
Please wish me, and my very disorganized style of writing, luck.