Fiction and Writing

Just Sit Down And Write (Or Not).

SitDown and Write

 

There’s a helluva lot of writing advice that floats around, and it can be so easy to get overwhelmed. I’m going to leave the actual craft stuff alone, (although I’m firmly in the ‘use other dialogue tags than said’ camp), and take a look at one of the bits about writing as an act, as an art. 

The one that sparked this for me is the idea of just sitting down and writing. This relates into the whole ‘writers block is stupid and doesn’t exist, real writers just sit down and write! Professionals don’t sit down and wait for inspiration’ etc etc. 

The people who retweet those quotes, and write those blog posts etc will state that you need to write, every day, regardless of whether you’re inspired. They’ll tell you that no one can tell the difference between an inspired day and a rough ‘it took me 3 hours to drag out 200 words’ day. That could be true for them, and fantastic! Wonderful! It is not however true for me. I’ve done blind tests with my editor, my beta reader, and a whole bunch of friends (writers and nonwriters). They told me, without a shadow of a doubt, that the non-inspired, just sit down and bloody write, writing, was inferior. It required more polish and editing. There is a clear difference in quality there. 

Yes. They were blind tests. They were handed two pieces of writing, no title, no clue. Same subject, same scene type, etc. 

Personally, I’m a quick writer when I write, and I would much rather write a clean first draft that requires far less editing (and thus money throwing at it for editing), than sit down and force myself to write something that will require more editing. If you’re in the latter camp, if you’d feel better about yourself if you made yourself write every day – that’s awesome. You need to do what makes you happy. Just keep in mind that that doesn’t work for all of us. 

My other problem, aside from the quality difference, with this advice, is it makes me miserable. I love writing, it’s my passion, my art. If I start forcing myself to write, I’ll lose that love. It’ll become a chore, something stressful. I chose this incredibly difficult route because it’s my passion. To be blunt, if I wanted to stress myself out, and battle with something every day, I’d go and get a day job that had a steady income and benefits.

If you’re like me, if you don’t want this to become a stressful act, then don’t feel bad. Don’t allow that advice to get you down, it’s ok. We’re individuals and we work differently. We each have our positives and our negatives.  

So for those of you who feel guilty when you see those quotes. Those of you who snarl a little bit and throw something because you just can’t do that dammit – it’s ok. I’m like that too, and this is just how we work. There’s nothing wrong with us, we’re no less serious, we’re just looking after our mental state by not stressing ourselves out and producing lower quality writing.** Next time you see one of those, look back at this and smile knowing that you’re not alone, and there’s nothing wrong with your methods.

**I’m not saying that everyone writes poorer quality fiction when they force themselves to write, I’m saying that those people who’re like me do. 

Take care of yourselves. Remember that you’re an individual. And you’re not alone. No really, there are many, many, more crazy writers just like you out there ready to hug you tight and welcome you to the madness. 

HollySig

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10 thoughts on “Just Sit Down And Write (Or Not).

  1. Sound advice. I write four days a week. That way I don’t burn myself out by trying to hit a certain amount of words every single day. On my writing days I try to get something done whether I’m inspired or not. If I’m not inspired to write, I’ll do research or something for the novel in order to get inspired. If I’m still not inspired, then at least I did a little research so I can say I got something done for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t have set writing days, but I do try and do a bit of something each day. Like you if I’m not inspired then I might jot down a few notes or something instead 🙂

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  2. Normally, I wait for my characters to talk to me. If they’re not talking to me, I’m not writing.

    I remember attending a session at a writer’s conference in which the writer said that she creates characters, who they are, what they would say and wouldn’t say, what they believe… every last detail of that character is made before any dialogue is written. I commented to her that I do the opposite. My characters tell me what they want to say and I write it. From their dialogue and actions, I analyze them and determine who they are and their motivations for what they’re doing. The nice thing about this writer is that she said exactly what you said here: if that’s what works for you, do it.

    As my creative writing instructor would say: there’s no right way to write. I would be more like you in that I don’t force myself to write and I certainly don’t write every day. If I feel like I have writer’s block, I’ll just wait until it passes, and it always does.

    Oddly enough, there have been a couple of times in which I used writer’s block as a source of inspiration. Like this one time when I told someone that I was going through writer’s block and he said, “I hope you get through it soon.” For whatever reason, I ended up responding, “Hey, I like writer’s block. It gives me an excuse to not do shit.” The moment I said that, I knew those words would end up in my first novel. And the moment I found a place for them and wrote them in, I knew it was my protagonist, Kara, talking to me again; her attitude is unmistakable. So I opened up the chapter I was currently working on and kept writing, my block having lifted for that day.

    Sometimes I’ll find myself blurting something out and then saying to myself, “That is such a Kara thing to say.” (Another quick example: I was entering a restroom and saw a guy leave without washing his hands. Of course, I had to comment, “With as many people who don’t wash their hands after using the restroom, I’m surprised the human race isn’t already extinct.”) That’s when writing is fun for me, when I’m hanging out with my characters and letting them be who they are and enjoying them for that. I certainly couldn’t do that if I was forcing dialogue and actions on them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I write the same way, my characters pop up as fully formed beings that I poke, prod, and chase around lol.It’s fun when those things pop up from somewhere, I had a character form from a guy I saw out in the city as I was walking to the bank. His entire backstory was sitting ready to write by the time I got home, it was fantastic. I feel like it’s important to remind people that there is no one way, and if you do it differently to a famous author, it’s not the end of the world 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We have discussed this many times and I am in agreement with everything you’ve said in this post. Writing is a creative process and if you’re not feeling it, you’re just not feeling it. It’s hard to force something that isn’t there. But I will say, there have been times when I haven’t necessarily felt inspired to write but sat down and tried it any way and found that with a little bit of work, the words ended up flowing. You have to take it on a case by case basis. The key is to not get down on yourself — ha! easier said than done, huh? Again, great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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