Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Typical Writing Day

I realize that reading about some writer's creative process, let alone a writer who's pretty much an amateur like myself, is probably the most boring thing in creation. But just for kicks, here's a typical writing day for me. Note that this is skewed both by the fact that Rob was up in NYC for the day and that it was spitting rain for most of the day. If those things wouldn't have been true, my day would have looked somewhat different.

9:30 a.m.: Get up. Putter around the house for a few hours. Clean. Realize the house doesn't actually look any cleaner and feel a little dejected. Watch a couple episodes of Portlandia. Yeah, I've watched these all a million times, but what's one more?

12:30 p.m.: Shower. Think about going out. Nope, still raining. Read Slate articles for about an hour.

4:00 p.m.: Shit, it's four already? Is it still raining? Yep, it sure is. Better read some more fucking Slate articles.

4:30 p.m.: Hm, this article is pretty interesting. Sorta reminds me of a certain stock SF conceit that I've wanted to base a story on. I should read more articles on the same topic.

5:15 p.m.: Damn it, I'm going outside.

5:45 p.m.: BRAINSTORM.

5:50 p.m.: Crap, rain's picking up.

7:00 p.m.: Eat. Watch some more Portlandia. Think about writing.

8:30 p.m.: Write 1700 words.

9:00 p.m.: Clean the kitchen, I guess?

I'm a sprinter, not a marathoner. The idea of "writing a little every day," while good in theory, hasn't ever worked for me. It didn't even work when writing the only novel I have ever written and likely will ever write. Some writers invested in "craft" joke about muses and such but honestly? I only write when the mood strikes me, although there are things I can do that will make the mood strike more often, though they're by no means foolproof.

For instance, I've learned that I can't -- absolutely can not -- write when I haven't gotten any exercise. Lately, that's mostly been bike rides (because I ride my bike to work), but walking is still the most reliable way to make the mood strike. Why does walking work the best? Maybe because I don't have to pay attention to traffic, and also because I can have more total control over my mp3 player (oh yeah, that's also an important component of "inspiration"). Don't get me wrong, cycling is still as wonderful as it was when I started doing it a year-and-change ago, but walking is where it's at. I need to start making more time for it.

Smoking also used to be one of the activities that I needed to do in order to get my writing to flow, but I've had to learn how to do without it. That can be hard to do in Hampden where literally everyone smokes all the time, but I think I've taught myself how to not want it so much. (And no, caffeine and especially alcohol are NOT acceptable substitutes for smoking.)

Sometimes I think that if I could write 1700 words so fast, what would it be like if I could keep up that pace for more than half an hour at a time? If I could do it every day? But I know I can't. Because writing isn't the only part of writing that's important. Writing may even be the least important part of writing. Reading the articles, taking the walks, smoking the cigarettes (if you are so inclined)... all of this is also part of writing. And even though I may be a speedy writer when I actually get around to the writing part, I can't speed the rest.

When you look at it that way, I didn't waste today at all! (Although, I kinda did.)


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