Friday, March 13, 2015

On Writing

By Susan

It's one of the age-old topics amongst writers: how do we get the writing done while balancing our lives? And even after we've found the time to write, what combination of luck, talent, and hard work does it take for a writer to succeed? From excuses, to pacing, to revision and the practice of writing itself, here are a few notes to myself while I struggle with those questions. 

On Writer's Block
There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.
Terry Pratchett

If I believed in writer's block, right now would be the time I'd claim it.

There are times in my writing journey where I consider myself a student, and times when I'm the teacher. Sometimes, I want to be neither: I just want to be the writer—and right now, I'm a suffering writer. Perhaps you feel that way at times as well. I'm at a crossroads, and all I want is to simply write my way to the end of this draft of my novel. Yet my life is getting in the way—meaning my excuses are piling up.
The actuality isn't that I'm plagued by writer's block, but that I've been struggling to control my writing mind. The remedy for that? For me, I need the time to think. Yoga and exercise help. Solitude is essential. Retreats, residencies, and workshops refill my well. When I can't have those luxuries, I need to carve out my own time to refocus my energies. Now is one of those times.
Ernest Hemingway's attic typewriter in Oak Park, Illinois
The interesting part of writing as a student is that I tend to follow a pattern I've named "lag and sprint." My pacing has been thrown by an external time clock instead of internal motivation. It seems I'm either sprinting toward a deadline or lagging in the afterglow of meeting yet another one. Before I started my MFA, my writing life took on a more rhythmic pace. My advice to MFA students? Properly pace yourself. Find the right rhythm for you and stick with it.

On Writing as a Student
It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.
Ernest Hemingway

As a student, I'm reading novels extensively and dissecting the form of short stories and poetry. I'm writing essays, literary criticism, and new chapters. An MFA in Creative Writing is serious business (although it's well-known that some programs are more rigorous than others) and I've taken each month's work to heart. After all, if I don't take my writing seriously, who else will?

On the Magic of Writing
People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.
Harlan Ellison

I like the idea that writing is magical, and perhaps I idealized the process myself when I first starting taking my fiction seriously. Yet this statement by Harlan Ellison sums it up properly. The key to completing projects is to do the work. Easier said than done when we convince ourselves that our writing is a luxury, or a pastime, or a hobby. The key to making our writing a priority is to simply carve out the time to do so, and to do so without guilt.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...