Butt in chair = no interwebs

I love the internet. I adore it madly and unashamedly. How could I not?

All the mostly-accurate secondary source knowledge you could ever want, for free at your fingertips; all the fanfic and fanart about all the most obscure fandoms, even that one show from the seventies; all the political discussion you could ever want, and those debates you wish you didn’t have to go into, because c’mon people, it’s 2012; all the most depressing and most inspiring things you can imagine (which is, of course, the first rule).

And when you’ve had one of THOSE days at work, 24 hours video feeds of kittens playing in their pen at a shelter, and the infamous Tumblr of pictures of Tom Selleck with waterfalls and sandwiches. Guys, it has a theme song!

I love the internet like I do chocolate. That is, in a fairly uncontrollable manner. If I want to make sure I don’t eat a bar of chocolate an hour before dinner, I have to not have any in the house, and if I want to write, I have to disable the wifi on my laptop, or go somewhere that has no wifi. I can and I do write at home sometimes, but these sessions are invariably short and end up interrupted by email or twitter. So I go and write at the coffee shop, but I really wish I didn’t have to.

John Scalzi wrote a book on writing titled ‘You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop’. I haven’t read it yet, but I do believe he has a point. Coffee shop writing doesn’t strike me as a way to build a career; though it definitely works for some people (Connie Willis mentioned it). I should be able to write in my house, because I have a story to tell and I want to tell it – but my house is full of shiny things and I have all the willpower of a tadpole.

So I’ll be working on writing at home more often, and I’ll be getting Scalzi’s writing book. I love his fiction as well as the title of this one, and I don’t think I can go wrong with taking advice from the President of the Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.


Writing every day: Pros & Cons

The number one piece of advice I’ve heard professional writers gives to aspiring writers is simple enough: WRITE.

Put your butt in the chair, your hands on the keyboard and just write your story instead of fretting about it. Then when you’re done, write another one, and then another one.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

A lot of people also say that the best way of achieving this is to write every day. Write about your day, follow a writing prompt, write your novel, every day. Even if it’s only a few hundred words, it doesn’t matter, Neil Gaiman said when he explained that he wrote Coraline by two-hundred words increments every night before going to bed.

So, a couple of months ago, I started the experiment of writing a bit of my novel every day, with a fairly low daily goal, but the hope that the regular additions would plump up my Scrivener file nice and quick. It worked, in terms of adding words regularly, but because it was always only a few hundred words at a time, the text ended up being fairly disjointed.

I found it difficult to maintain writing every day more than a couple of weeks, because after a while I got really depressed about the state of the story. I couldn’t manage to get the tone and action consistent from where I’d left off, and ended up having to delete a lot of words.

The two to three thousand words I wrote during those two weeks are now the chapter in need of the most revisions, and it’s so broken up that it’s not even ready for me to read at writing group.

I could try and write quicker, that’s true – three NaNoWriMo wins have taught me I can write fast, but I don’t really want to, in all honesty. I don’t write quickly, and I haven’t found that my writing improved when I made myself write very quickly all the time. I now consider the wonderful Write or Die a November-only luxury. I’m now trying to write things that make sense and sound nice the first time around, rather than having to re-draft my whole book before it makes any kind of sense.

The good thing about my Writing Every Day experiment is that it’s shown me again and again that once I got in the groove, after maybe ten or fifteen minutes, writing wasn’t as difficult as all that, and I produced decent stuff. What I’m taking from these few weeks is that I need to find a way of writing regularly that works for me.

My assessment so far is: I need to write often, but in longer stretches of time. I can’t just grab ten or twenty minutes here and there (again, that’s a November thing) – I have to set aside an hour at the very least, two at best and knuckle down properly, giving myself time to think. The good news is that I have that time, the bad news is that I don’t know how much I trust myself to put it to good use.


What I’m doing?

Being an aspiring writer in possession of some free time and an internet connection, the main reason I don’t write more is that I procrastinate. I do other things in the time I could use for writing. I’m entirely responsible for that, and I know how and why I’m wasting time. It’s because procrastinating is easy and can be quite pleasant.

If you’re also a writer, you know how much easier it is to research or plot my story than to write it, how much easier is it to read (or indeed write) about writing than to actually write? If you’re not a writer, it is A LOT easier. It’s very easy to get discouraged, to believe my writing won’t ever amount to anything, etc… Again, if you’re a writer you’ll know the drill. I have a fairly short attention span, and my inclination tends to be to try lots of different things, so when I start thinking my writing dreams are doomed, it can be hard to get back on the horse.

I’m not making excuses for myself, I’m laying out facts. I want to become a better and more prolific writer, so I want to try and get a more logical approach to my writing. Try to see when and where I’m more productive, what’s helpful to me, etc… so I can take all these things and apply them to finishing my damn book.