Show me a writer who hasn’t declared, some time around the 1st of January, “This will be my year,” and I’ll show you a writer who has given up the struggle. We are bombarded with ways to write faster, to pluck more ideas from the ether, and to formulate the words and ideas into prize and contract winning prose. Which is not to say that some approaches will work for some people, or that there isn’t always room for improvement.
Sometimes we get lost in the thickets of our own lives – especially the electronic lives we now lead – and lose touch with just what writing is. Should that be the case for you, allow me to separate the trees from the wood.
Writing is not…
Checking emails; updating your Author Central page or your Goodreads author profile; using Tweepdash to cull those nefarious Twitter followers who only want to sell you more Twitter followers, or discount coupons, or porn; posting, sharing or liking on Facebook; checking for new book reviewers on Amazon or Goodreads; playing with spreadsheets – even if that’s how you plot your books; reading other writers’ blogs; sending out e-newsletters; setting up Tweetdeck Twitter campaigns; blog hops; internet research; submitting your manuscript to an agent or a publisher, even if you have to go down to the Post Office to do it; sitting in cafes with other writers and discussing your latest work / challenges in a heady mixture of coffee, hot chocolate and free WiFi; going for a walk to get some inspiration; listening to other writers being interviewed on the radio; or any of the other things we do as writers when we are unwilling or unable to write.
Putting one word in front of the next, on paper or on screen.
Sometimes it feels like walking on thin ice. Sometimes we are caught in a sandstorm of intention, blindly making our way forward, only able to see one word at a time. And sometimes we have that blood rush frenzy we call ‘the flow’ or ‘the zone’ where the story (or more likely one of its characters) feeds us the lines the way a lover spoons us dessert. However it comes to us, unbidden or hard won, a story only exists when we commit it to words.
To all the writers out there, here’s to a productive 2017.