Friday, April 29, 2011

The Muse is [IN]

Yeah, and my ass is purple.

I figured I'd address this common(?) belief, and also give my thoughts on it. Many people believe that they can only write when the Muse is speaking to them, and if said Muse is elsewhere, bowling with the gods, let's say, all creativity will cease. If you haven't guessed, I don't believe in this little hoopla. If the Muse is "Not in" for me, I'm just being lazy.

I write somewhere between outlining and discovery writing. I have to see the scene in my head like a movie before I can write it, and then there is a furious scrambling to get everything down before I forget it. This past week I couldn't write anything, even when I sat down and tried. I would scroll through my list of scenes and have absolutely no idea where to begin.

But that was just my problem: I didn't know where to begin. None of the scenes were developing in my head. There was no mythological epiphany when I finally started writing, either. As a matter of fact, it came completely devoid of thunder, and I had to really sit down and think just to get out the 500 words. But I figured out where in the story I need to write RIGHT THEN, and I sat down and wrote it. (This was just today, by the way.)

I'm telling you this for two reasons. First, whenever you (or I) are not writing, it is no one's fault but your own (mine). Nearly a whole week went by without me writing a word, and even though I only got 500 words out today, it's still getting me somewhere. Second... okay, so I'm really only telling you this for one reason. If you are waiting for the planets to align perfectly before you begin writing that novel you always meant to get to, it's never going to happen. You do realize that planets will reach a certain alignment every 3.5 billion years or so, right? I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you'll be dead in 3.5 billion years. I know, it comes as a shock, but you need to know. I personally would like to be able to say I wrote a book (or hopefully, several) in my measly human life span. And trust me, it's NOT easy. Sometimes getting 100 words out is like pulling teeth. Other times I write over 1000 words in less than an hour.

April 1 = 0
April 2 = 0
April 3 = 0
April 4 = 400
April 5 = 0
April 6 = 900
April 7 = 0
April 8 = 0
April 9 = 0
April 10 = 0
April 11 = 0
April 12 = 350
April 13 = 550
April 15 = 100
April 16 = 100
April 17 = 600
April 18 = 450
April 19 = 470
April 20 = 700
April 21 = 160
April 22 = 0
April 23 = 1300
April 24 = 0
April 25 = 0
April 26 = 0
April 27 = 0
April 28 = 0
April 29 = 550

(The manuscript total includes the story PLUS all my notes, I have everything in the same file.)

Come on, look how pathetic those numbers are. I have at least a week on either end where I did barely any writing. But I still wrote SOMETHING. All you need to do is write a little bit every day. I was doing really well in the middle of this month, if you look at the 12th through the 23rd I look like I really know what I'm doing. It's when you look at the beginning and end of the month you realize that I, like you, cannot get my ass in the chair as much as I would like. But I didn't let my lack of writing stop me from getting out 900 words on the 6th, or 350 words on the 12th. And look, those 350 words led to a solid 8 more days of writing. And that's NOT a lot. I know there's still one day left in the month, but I'm not going to delude myself into thinking I'll get a significant amount of writing done. It is a Saturday, after all.

Yes, I do find these numbers embarrassing. The whole point of keeping track of them is to force myself to make sure I do a little bit more every month. You don't start running marathons, you start by running to the end of the block. This month, I think I made it to the next street over. At least.

And how appropriate: a tidbit from Advice for Writers today: "Writing doesn't mean necessarily putting words on a sheet of paper. You can write a chapter while walking or eating." UMBERTO ECO

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