Thursday, September 03, 2009

On Writing

Based on the title, I suppose I should attempt to write something profound about writing. That wasn't my intention. "Write." If you want to be a writer, then writing is the most difficult aspect of the job, and the most fundamental. I know it sounds silly. However, the most common barrier people encounter in writing is the writing aspect. It is tough work.

Okay, it's not profound or original. But maybe it is a little bit insightful.

I've spent the last few months wrestling with various projects, trying to complete each. I've finally reached a point to where it seems I've returned to where I've started - which means, some projects are complete. I'll start announcing a few of those next week. Or maybe even tomorrow.

For the moment, I've reset my writing counter, and embarked on another project. I typically divide my time between projects, so word count trackers are not accurate. Still, I'm going to use one. And I'm isolating it to a single project. This keeps it a bit more honest.

On the off chance someone is curious, the project I'm tracking now is a novel. I have a few to write in the next year, so I thought it'd be fun to track them.

I'll not venture into "my process" of writing. Although I'd love to hear how others approach a work such as a novel or short story. And if you have something you'd like to mention, please do. For those who are shy, emailing me is fine.


Steve Buchheit said...

Good luck, William. Type, type like the wind.

Anonymous said...

You'll hear no arguments from me about writing being tough work! Since May, I have written a grand total of two book reviews. And, it felt like a Herculean effort for me to write even that much! As T.E.D. Klein has said, "I'm one of those people who will do anything to avoid writing. Anything!"

Charles Gramlich said...

I keep a running word count often on my own during the revision process, especially if I have a word limit. But it's never totally accurate because I always have at the bottom's of manuscripts sections labled NOTES, where I put in points I want to remember. Still, it gives me a rough idea of what I'm shooting for.

Rhys-Lain-Austurias said...

Ah, the most difficult part of writing. There are multiple projects I have begun, including the one I am planning on sending to you, and I feel swamped often due to my own inability to force myself to sit down and write.

I think the ultimate issue for me is that I want to get it out perfect the first time-so I do not have to go through several revisions-and that seems to slow down the process. I really focus on the literary aspect as well which slows me down even more.

Oh well, I have all night-I plan to stay up writing-and I am sure I will accomplish something. I have this new habit of skipping lines even on the handwritten drafts to make the rewrites easier to finish.

The worst part, though, is after you have survived the actual writing and the editor goes through it and it is actually published, people still have to buy it.
-Licorice Lain

Jay Caselberg said...

William, how I write is simple. I sit down and write. Of course the lizard brain has been doing a whole lot of stuff in the background prior to that, but fundamentally (or fun-da-mental) the brain does the work without me knowing how.

William Jones said...

Jeff - Roofing is a bit more fun than writing. :) Although, I find it easier to write a story than a review, so I tip my hat to you.

Charles - You're quite right. Wound count doesn't actually reflect the total number of words written - which is often quite higher. Revising, deleting, adding, moving, and replacing are all part of the writing process with no means of tracking.

Rhys - I know that feeling. Well, I know all of those feelings. :) I always tell writers not to revise while writing. In many cases, this ends up in a writing-editing-revising loop. Instead, don't look at what you're writing, just get it down, then edit it later when you have some distances. Of course, that is just one of many approaches.

I've learned to survive the editor by putting trust in them. (Easy for me to say). We always want to support our reasons for something, and sometimes they need supporting. Other times, the editor has nice distance from the work and can see things that might not be visible to us.

And of course selling the book is a subject in itself. :)

Jay - Good to see you in these parts! I know what you mean. For me the characters write the story. And it's a bit of having read so many works that there is a "feel" that comes along with a tale. But just sitting down and writing does work well for me. I will confess I try to leave a scene hanging just to I have some momentum the next time I start writing.

Rhys-Lain-Austurias said...

I am in the process of building an 80,000 page novel, editing it, typing it out and doing all of the necessary touch ups for submission before the 30th. The worst part is that I started yesterday. Luckily I have a plot and artistic direction in mind.

This will be good for me as it will be the ultimate test as to whether or not I can push past that self-imposed wall I keep hitting while writing.
-Licorice Lain

Anonymous said...

William, I've read that Ramsey Campbell uses a similar technique (re: your "leave a scene hanging") when he writes, so that when he starts up the next morning, he knows exactly where to begin.

Vesper said...

What a cute tracker! :-)

I love how you say you have to write a few novels next year. You're so lucky, William... :-)

William Jones said...

Steve - For some reason, your posts did not arrive as email notices. So I just found them. And yes, I will now have to type like the wind. :)

Jeff - I'm not sure if I knew Ramsey Campbell used the same trick, but I do know it isn't original to me. It has been around for a few centuries actually. It does make starting a bit easier (until you start wanting to edit again).

Vesper - Glad you like the tracker. I can never recall the "moods" it has (9 I believe). I simply assume 1 is moody, and 10 is joyful. It is a bit more entertaining than just numbers.

As for the novels, thank you. So long as I'm not running behind, they are a pleasure to write. Actually, they are easier than anthologies - at least for me.

I do know you write poetry. Do you write prose as well?

Vesper said...

Hi William,

Poetry is something that just comes to me every now and then... prose is my first love and will always be.

I have so little time to write though. I put some stuff on my blog - you can find it under the label fiction-prose. If you remember, you've read that little story about "things" coming out of the sea, "A Hunger from the Deep", last October.

But I am getting ready to send you something for the new High Seas anthology. :-)