Sunday, October 24, 2004

Writing habits

I was thinking about CAAF's post at Tingle Alley about how writing is hard. When I was drafting my new novel this spring, it all went pretty smoothly in the grand scheme of things but it still felt like very hard work--the image in my head for what I was doing was cutting a usable path through a sugar-cane field with an extremely blunt machete. (I'm not kidding, and this is not writerly affectation. Ten times a day I thought of this and struggled forward. Because even if it's slow and rather back-breaking, you have to do it. Or else there won't be a path, will there?) The writing tip I found most inspirational was one suggested by Garth Nix (see the "Keeping Motivated" section under "How I Write"); keeping a word count and setting sane daily word limits so that you can see the manuscript accumulating without any single superhuman feat of effort.

And here's CAAF's original post. Kevin Wignall says in the comments that he doesn't think writing is hard; I take his point (and his own writing certainly makes it look lovely and easy...), but I still say that this has a lot to do with your temperament. Personally, I find it comforting to think of writing as hard work. Imagine writing and revising a novel as a job like any other big one: building a house, cleaning out a house that somebody lived in for seventy years, raising a child from its first to its second birthday; training to run a marathon, etc. etc. If you think you could do a decent job with any one of these, there is no reason you can't write a perfectly good novel.

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