It has been 2 weeks now. I have been working on my novel every day for 2 weeks. I’m generally terrible with “every day” goals but I managed to get this system up and running again for the novel. And now the chain is long enough that I don’t want to break it by missing a day.
Maybe not-so-coincidentally, my chain of days of “not talking about politics with people on Facebook” is just about as long.
However. What I want to do with this post is celebrate 2 weeks of writing every day. Woot!
I also want to give a shout-out to Cynthia Franks at Frankly Write for this post about structure. As Dave in my writers’ group says, often writing advice doesn’t mean anything to you until you are ready to hear it. I think I was finally ready to hear this: “Structure is Translation Software for Your Imagination” (James Scott Bell). Cynthia recommended his book Super Structure on her blog, I bought an eCopy for $3.99, and it was money well spent.
But I had a long way to go before I was ready to hear that advice. In fact, I think I may have hit bottom with writing advice. I’m not sure when that happened; maybe a long time ago. I have been flirting with writing for years. I have done NaNoWriMo three times, I’m a member of a writers’ group. I blog. I went to a writing retreat this summer. I usually enjoy writing. As an introvert, I find it easier than speaking and it tends to be a more reliable way of expressing myself.
But I cringe at the amount of time, effort, and angst that many writers seem to expend on the act of writing itself, and it has been hard to just commit to a process that is billed as so fraught and fragile.
As NaNoWriMo approaches, so do the breathless emails that claim the label of writer as some sort of badge of honor to be earned with much sweat, angst, and caffeine. That quote about sitting at a typewriter and bleeding is going to start coming across my newsfeed again any day now–but who even owns a typewriter these days? Even James Scott Bell, whose book I enjoyed and found useful, seemed to feel like he had to spend a good part of the already slim volume defending himself and justifying the use of the structure he proposed rather than just getting on with it. And even Bell couldn’t seem to refrain from referring to an anonymous writer’s unstructured manuscript, before Bell worked his magic on it, as a “stinking mess” about which no one would “give a rip.”
I’m pleasantly surprised at the way a low-politics diet has been working. It’s not a no-politics diet: I’m still educating myself about the issues, and I know who I’m voting for. The difference for me has been in staying away from overwrought and manipulative language, and in not incorporating such language into my own self-talk.
I believe that such an approach will work well for me for writing too. So no, my first draft is not “shitty.” It is not a “turd” to be polished, nor is it an “updraft” (as in thrown up). I am not opening a vein, bleeding on the page. I’m also not insane, compulsive, delusional, possessed of a massive ego, or on my way to hell on a road paved with adverbs.
I’m just writing.