Thursday, January 31, 2013

Stubbornness

Status update:  about halfway done and advancing at a furious pace. Coffee supplies strong.

Time to return to the world of Bo. This one's going to be about vacations, dinosaurs, rockets and grain alcohol. Somebody's going to get their kicks on a route of some indeterminate number.

The Clone City stories nearly write themselves. They go very, very quickly. I typically bang them out at anywhere from 1000-1400 words per hour, which is higher than my normal writing speed. One thing I occasionally struggle with is conveying just how subversively alien the setting is. It's our world and yet not our world at the same time. It's very mildly post apocalyptic but the world that it's a post apocalyptic version of isn't quite our own. It's not dystopian but it's a stones toss away from a dystopia.

Also, I've set a goal of never using the word "clone" in the fiction itself, which is occasionally troublesome, but which makes sense from the perspective of the narrator. The various clones don't really consider themselves copies of anything, that's just the way it always has been. They don't pop out of vats.

But they're fun stories to write. Bo (pronounced "bah", by the way) is a great character and when I write him, it's almost as if he is, personally, telling me stories. I have notes for at least 4 or 5 more, and the setting is rich enough that I have no doubt more stories will follow those.

Not everything will be that easy, though. I'd be a liar if I said that all writing was.

I'd say that writing is about 90% stubbornness. It's the difference that separates writers from people who can write but don't. Sure, there's millions of people out there who have the skills to write decently and have awesome stories to tell. Only a few will actually commit time every day to writing down something. Most people hit that first rough patch before they realize that, yes, writing is work, just like anything else. Then they quit, telling themselves that they'll come back to it and go watch TV instead.

William Faulkner once said that he only wrote when inspiration hit him. And he was lucky in that inspiration always hit at 9 o'clock every morning.

Much like any habit, you have to make it a priority. You don't get physically fit by waiting to get in the mood to exercise. You have to set aside time regularly, go out and do something. Lift weights. Go for a walk. Jog. You don't get in shape by kicking your ass once every month or two when you're in the mood or when you feel guilty about eating too much Taco Bell the night before. No, you go out and do a little every day, even when it's rainy or you're not feeling great. You don't have to do much on any given day, but the cumulative effect over a long period of time is vast.

Writing is much the same. It gets easier, in many ways, the more of it you do. Set aside time every day for it. When that time hits, you're writing. You hit a rough spell in your story? Pound words down on paper until you get your tailwind again. Short on ideas? Spend that time brainstorming and researching. Work on your outline.

Having said that, I'm a terrible procrastinator.  I tell myself to start writing at 7; I'll start at 8. Once I settle down and go at it, it goes quickly and I have a hard time stopping. Such is life.

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