Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Monday, February 13, 2006

Stuff and Nonsense

Link to another very down-to-earth blog about writing which everyone should read:
It's JA Konrath's site and he has excellent advice for all writers, but especially newbies.

Whew. I just put another issue of the Wilmington Cape Fear Rose Society newsletter to bed so instead of writing the mildly coherant blog I've been thinking about, which would have been on writing s-e-x scenes for those who aren't so thrilled with the idea, I'm just going to babble for a while. Spring is coming, which means it's time to get out there and try to get control over the poison ivy, Virginia creeper, Beauty Berry, jessimine vines and other weeds that have completely taken over the garden while I sat inside writing. Since moving here, I've come to LOATHE vines. There are no good vines. They entwine my roses, azaleas and other plants and eat everything. ARGH! Sometimes when I look out at our overgrown gardens, I think a scorched earth policy is not such a bad thing.

You know, I need to quit my paying job so I have time to actually garden and write about gardening. And write about writing. And then actually write. There is not enough TIME. I can't even remember the last time I went out birding, although I'm seriously glad I've learned a few bird calls, since most of my birding these days consists of whizzing around in a car on errands and hearing some bird call through my open window and screaming, "Oh! There's a Red-Tailed Hawk...somewhere around here!" I don't actually have time to see them anymore, I just hear them. But, I'm told that counts, too.

I did manage to write a few new pages, though, this last weekend thanks to the rain which kept me from doing the serious trimming that needs to be done in the garden.

All of this babbling is really leading up to something that is actually critically important to writers (although it sort of applies to gardeners and even birders). No matter how hectic your schedule becomes, or how depressed about your writing you are, you need to sit down at least once a day, every day, and just write. But not that journal stuff. That journal (or blog) stuff can wait until after you've written your real writing stuff, your fiction (or non-fiction, if you're writing non-fiction). Doing a journal, or blog, is on the nice-to-do list. It's not on the must-do list. The things on your must-do list are items like: shower (yes, you really must), eat, write, and sadly, one day, die.

If you don't write, you're never going to be a writer and certainly never a published writer.

Here's a secret. If you're really, really depressed and you've just gotten a handful of rejections back that say things like: "You're the worst writer I've ever had the misfortune to encounter" or "Never submit anything else to me again, you pathetic hack..." then what you need to do after you go out and scream with rage for about twenty minutes, is come back inside, sit down at your favorite writing medium (e.g. a computer, typewriter, or pen-and-paper) and write. Just write. The more depressed you are, the more you think you'll never publish, the more you need to sit down and force yourself to write.

It doesn't matter if you only manage to write one sentence. Just the act of writing will begin to lift your depression. Why? Because you are doing something about it. Let's face it, you're depressed because you've worked long and hard and submitted your best work and gotten your face smashed into the wall. The process is essentially like the lottery. What you're trying to do is find that one editor who understands your message and appreciates your writing. This is not easy and like the lottery, other than keeping up the submission process, it is largely out of your control. Your depression most likely stems from this "out of control" issue.

However, you do have one thing under your control. Your writing habits. So you go back to what you can control and you write. Every blessed day. I, personally, try to set aside the hours of 8-10PM to write. This is after my paying job hours, it's after dinner, so it doesn't conflict with the things I feel I gotta do. When things really get bad, I even write in other rooms on other things, like an AlphaSmart or a pen-and-paper--anything, really, that let's me write. It takes a while to work out of a depression, and believe me, I *know* depression, but it's amazing what focusing on your writing will do for your spirits. Not to mention, you will definitely improve your writing.

Oh, and there is one more thing you can do. I keep one shelf entirely full of really, really bad, and I do mean bad novels. Ones written in such a sophomoric style that it is hard to keep from laughing when you read them. When I get really depressed, I read them so I can sneer at someone else and think: You know, if this schlock can get published, it's only a matter of time before I get published.

You'll see. It'll make you feel much, MUCH better! There's nothing like a lip-curling sneer to lift your spirits.

Okay, I've shown you mine, what are YOUR methods to keep writing despite rejections, depression, and the economy?


Sonja Foust said...

That last hint about keeping a shelf full of sucky novels was so funny it made me snort, and I'm at work and really shouldn't be snorting.

I can't do that though, because then I get depressed that those idiots are published and I'm NOT and boy I must really REALLY suck.

But whatever floats your boat. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Well done!
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