rolling up my sleeves

work in progress--not a pretty sightI’m haring off on another writing adventure–a new novel I hope to finish by summer’s end. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting excerpts from a nice long chat I had with my friend Deb Bouziden about the writing process. I’d love to hear everyone’s answers to her questions. She asked some doozies! This particular interview will be published in its entirety in the 2010 Novel & Short Story Market Book. It will hit the shelves October 2009.
DB: What rituals do you follow before you begin working? Turn on music? Seek quiet? Go for a walk? Read yesterday’s work? Do these rituals help the creative process?
SW: All of those sound wonderful! But for me, they’re not writing–they’re procrastinating. I don’t seem to have a consistent “trigger” or ritual to put me in the “zone.” Sometimes I wonder if I even have a zone.
What I have is a work ethic. I had it when I was a teacher and I have it as a writer. When it’s time to go to work, I simply do that–go to work. I put on my big-girl panties (sorry about that visual) and get going on whatever it is that needs to be done that day–write a scene, polish a revision, completely dismantle and rework something….So I can’t really offer you a particular ritual or routine but a mind set: Get to work. And be glad that you love the work.
Now, some people will claim they need time to find the muse. Others have told me (without realizing they’re being rude) that writers who are fast, who “crank them out” are hacks.
I disagree. I have read bad books that were years in the making, and brilliant books, like The Grapes of Wrath, that were written in just a few months. A book takes as long as it takes. For some writers, it varies from book to book. For others, it’s the same amount of time every book. Advice to writers–take the time you need to write the book that’s in your heart. This might mean a commitment of anywhere from a few months to a few years or more. Each writer needs to find her own work rhythm.
I think I just contradicted myself with that answer. That’s what happens when I make both sides of my brain work at the same time.

Share this post

0 Responses

  1. I just go to work. Of course I do make sure I have done chores, had coffee and then just get to it. There is usually a constant din around here, be it animals outside or my teenager, so I have to say I am unaffected either way on that silence vs music score. I’m not one to “set the mood to write” I just do it.

    Also, I am going to have to say I am quite unsure I have a zone per se…….my own unique thought process that flows out the fingers into the keyboard is would I guess be my zone come to think of it. If I am working I am good.

    Pam

  2. I just go to work. Of course I do make sure I have done chores, had coffee and then just get to it. There is usually a constant din around here, be it animals outside or my teenager, so I have to say I am unaffected either way on that silence vs music score. I’m not one to “set the mood to write” I just do it.
    Also, I am going to have to say I am quite unsure I have a zone per se…….my own unique thought process that flows out the fingers into the keyboard is would I guess be my zone come to think of it. If I am working I am good.
    Pam

  3. Me too. I just go to work with a fresh cup of coffee and a big water glass. I get the jolt and cool refreshing water to keep the body and mind alert. I suppose it is a switch in the mind that clicks in especially if there is a deadline looming. I try not to let outside distractions seep in, but, life is life, with all its interruptions, good or bad. I like to have the news on or a teaching tape or music. If it is a teaching tape I have listened to before, sometimes, something will get my attention and I have to stop, listen to it again, maybe ponder the idea or concept, then back to work. It makes the boss happy when all the invoices are out. Doing creative things just has to wait until the ‘other’ stuff is done.

    So… you are writing short stories? Little vignettes? Anytime I can get great short stories to read to Mother, I am a happy woman.

  4. Me too. I just go to work with a fresh cup of coffee and a big water glass. I get the jolt and cool refreshing water to keep the body and mind alert. I suppose it is a switch in the mind that clicks in especially if there is a deadline looming. I try not to let outside distractions seep in, but, life is life, with all its interruptions, good or bad. I like to have the news on or a teaching tape or music. If it is a teaching tape I have listened to before, sometimes, something will get my attention and I have to stop, listen to it again, maybe ponder the idea or concept, then back to work. It makes the boss happy when all the invoices are out. Doing creative things just has to wait until the ‘other’ stuff is done.
    So… you are writing short stories? Little vignettes? Anytime I can get great short stories to read to Mother, I am a happy woman.

  5. As always, brilliant writing advice, Susan. It’s easy to get caught up in the mystical side of writing and forget that constructing a novel is, at its core, craft and sheer hard work.
    (And inquiring minds want to know – is the “novel finished by summers end” going to be Daisy’s story???!!!!)

  6. As always, brilliant writing advice, Susan. It’s easy to get caught up in the mystical side of writing and forget that constructing a novel is, at its core, craft and sheer hard work.
    (And inquiring minds want to know – is the “novel finished by summers end” going to be Daisy’s story???!!!!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Stay In Touch!

Be the first to get updates from Susan