I have been talking with a friend about impulses, pleasure, and self-control. And it once again came painfully obvious that I’m one of those people who like structure, discipline, and who like to torture themselves. To be noted, I’m also one of those people who hate if that structure and discipline is given from outside not to mention torture. I alone have a right to beat my head against the wall (floor was my preferred choice as a child, or so I have heard, I have no recollection) or make myself run or swim until my joint says: “Pop.” My husband knows this about me, and he has taken upon him to say, “How about you relax?” The typical answer is “No!”…”Okay, I only do half what I have planned to do. Happy?” Like today with my swimming laps.
You might wonder what the crit this has to do with writing. Okay, I have to give you more credit. You know what this has to do with writing, and no I don’t expect you to think my characters, and take pity on them. I know you know I write every day for several hours. Now as I’m editing my second book (17/31 done!) the time I can spend has increased. Does this make the quality of my work suffer and can creativity struck me every day from 7 am. to 10 am.?
Some writers say consistency is the key for them like Terry Pratchett. He wrote every day even on holidays 400 words and said that was the best way for him. The again Chuck Palahniuk says he might not write for days, weeks, and even for a year. That he toys with the idea and when it is ready, he sits down and types it out. Both are highly creative writers who have succeeded in their genres. There doesn’t seem to be a right answer. I think the key to writing isn’t following someone else’s path or advice. It is to find your natural way (this is something me and my friend have been debating about lately. I might not show this post to him as this is a “score point” for him.)
Still, despite it being natural for me to write every day (if I don’t, I get out of tune and it skews the whole day,) I wonder does it hurt my creativity and end product? Is forcing the words out of me every day at the same freaking hour and minute wrong way? The honest answer is sometimes, yes! There are days when nothing goes as I want, the words don’t please me (my impudent slaves), and/or my mind is empty. On those days, the torturess in me who likes to break my knees doesn’t let me slide off. She says: “You need to write a sentence or two and sit there thinking what has prompted this sudden absence of inspiration. It doesn’t matter if you strike the sentences out later as long as there is progression.” (I hate her too.) I listen to the voice though. Sometimes it pays off. Other times I want to find my cat, go under my table, and stay there until their soft purr has released my mind from my slave-master.
Is this the right way to do this even for me? Should I be more like Chuck Palahniuk and nestle ideas, let them stew, and then when it is the right time write them down? The thing is even when my creative time is 7 am to 10 am (I have been observing myself and find out that both my body and mind are the most vibrant this time of the day), I think about the problems existing in my book all the time and, usually, they come out more clearly when I sit in front of my computer. Sometimes I sit down with a blank slate and see where that leads me. Should I continue sticking to my routines like a mechanical man? (A second point for my friend. There is no scoreboard, or is there?)
The answer is crit you all. I’m going home. (I’m in a weird mood.) The truer answer is, I have to accept what I am. That I’m a more mechanical creator than a free-range creativity. That the structure creates space for me to express myself and work when I’m at my best (when I’m tired, I get odder and the jokes…*Shudders*) Sometimes the magic isn’t there when I sit down. I’m tired, the circumstances are not optimal, or I have used my weekly quota of words. On those days, I should learn to listen to myself better and put the unnecessary torturess back into the closet and gag her. This is a process, and I’m still learning how to do this without burning myself.
Reading and listening to how other writers perform their magic makes things clearer. And it is always fun to find someone else is as lunatic as you are. It is also fun to notice that some soothe the dragon by long walks and the others with drugs. But I’m sure you can combine those two by snorting the pinecones.
Thank you for reading! No cats were harm during this post.