May 25, 2011

writing = work

So far this week, I’ve surpassed my writing goals, getting about 1200 words in each day rather than 1000. It feels great. It feels great just to write, to see my story unfold on the page. It seems that when I get stuck – like I did the past two weeks – I forget how great it is to reach that goal; it’s like I can only think of writing as grueling work. It is work, no doubt. It takes a lot of patience and determination to write a book.

Yesterday, I decided that something was definitely wrong with the scene I wrote on Monday. When I originally wrote the scene, it felt off. But, I couldn’t figure out why. The scene was a part of an important subplot, and I had planned for it to be there, exactly how and where I had written it. So why did it feel wrong? It was in the wrong place. When plotting the story, I put the scene there, thinking that it was the proper place for it. It wasn’t. So, what did I do? I moved it. It’ll probably show up in another two or three chapters.

And rather than despair that I had to finish chapter four again, I faced the endeavor happily. I realized that in my plotting efforts months ago, I had forgotten an important scene for the main plot. Yes. I forgot a scene detrimental the main plot. I’m still new to plotting. Cut me some slack. I wrote that scene, and it fits perfectly, leading into a sound transition between chapters.

It wasn’t easy. Writing is hardly ever easy for me (when it is, it’s glorious). I forced myself to sit at my desk, hands on keyboard, eyes on computer screen. I forced myself to stay there until I finished the chapter again. It was infuriating. I don’t know about everyone else, but when I get stuck, I want to get as far away from my manuscript as possible. I want to run from my computer and go take a walk outside, sip on a juice box, and maybe flip through soap operas for ten minutes. When I force myself to stay at the computer, I start to feel... claustrophobic. I feel like someone has bound me to the chair where I can’t move unless I finish writing. I can’t stand that claustrophobic feeling (seriously, if I can’t move my joints freely, if they are restricted in any way, it drives me crazy.) Just writing about it makes me antsy. So, in order to be free, I finish writing.

It’s a chore writing under that sort of pressure. I want to make sure that what I write is as near perfect as a first draft can be. I want to make sure that the actions make sense, that I’m not going off on a tangent, and that it reads nicely. It’s difficult. It takes time.

It just shows that writing is work from the beginning to the end. If you are a plotter, it takes work to plot the story beforehand; it takes work to stick to the plot, to admit that the plot isn’t working, to replot. As a pantser, it takes work figuring out where the story is going, having faith in what you’ve written, and trucking on each day even though you’re not quite sure how it’s going to end. For both, it takes work receiving criticism. It takes work revising, editing, and proofreading. It takes work querying, submitting, and publishing. Writing is a job, a career. It’s not just a hobby.

It takes a lot of patience, determination, and naïve optimism to be a writer. So those of us who persevere, we are awesome. We are writers. We are storytellers of the best kind. Don’t let anyone tell you any different, and don’t let anyone make you out to be less than you are. You work at what you do, and that’s what makes you brilliant.


  1. You are so right. Writing is the hardest job I've ever had, but the rewards are so fulfilling. I can't stop myself from creating my stories and giving meaning to my thoughts.

  2. Great post, and AWESOME work on your WIP! It does take so much dedication and sacrifice--great job with the hardest part: the discipline.