Wednesday, December 1, 2010

2 Important Things Writers Should Remember, Part II

Monday I posted about the first important thing that I thought writers should remember: that you should put your energy into your intention. Thanks everyone who commented with super nice sweet things to say. Today I'm talking about the second thing I think writers should remember.

As I said Monday, these are just my thoughts on the big picture of a writer's pursuits, whatever those pursuits may be. For most of us, that includes representation and publication (and then success). I'll repeat here what I said Monday: I'm currently unrepresented and unpublished, so you may not really care to hear what I have to say. After all, I haven't been there, have I? These are just my thoughts. Agree or disagree, I'd love to hear what you think in the comments.

So for the past three years or so, I have spent a lot of time writing. I don't take a lot of breaks. I usually write after my whippersnapper goes to bed. I also blog then, and read, too. I've kept up a pretty feverish writing pace, and I've never regretted it. I don't question my pace because I love writing. Writing is my play, and I do it instead of watching TV or cleaning. Also, I know I had a lot of ground to cover because while I'd always written stories all my life, I'd never written novels. There's a lot of learning to be done.

Last weekend while being pampered and served by my mother, I had lots of time to think and surf the internet and catch up on my reading. One of those I caught up with was Writer's Digest. When I saw Zachary Petite's Promptly blog post on Writer's Digest about the one thing Sue Grafton reminds herself of with every book she writes, I liked what Sue had to say, and then kind of moved on. But later on, I realized it really resonated with me. A lot, in fact. I knew I'd arrived at the second important thing I think writers should remember:

Writing is play.

Sue Grafton actually said her lesson is that she should trust the process, but ends with the reminder that writing is play. When I question what the hell I'm doing, what dreck I'm pushing out, what effort I put in, why I bother researching every single agent I submit to far, far more than it takes for them to reject me, I remind myself that writing is my play. I never tire of it, and therefore I never tire of any part of the process associated with it, including the search for representation and publication. I've heard it said many times that publishing is a business and cannot be approached as a hobby or anything less than a job. And I agree, 100%. But for me, if I don't have the underlying passion and drive for the thing in the first place, if it isn't my form of play, then how can a publishing career be a long-term pursuit for me?

Your mileage may vary, of course. But I need anything I do intently and whole-heartedly to be my play, or else I won't put the intensity in that it requires. I've got to love it.

What do you think? What do you think about both of these important things writers should remember?


Jeannie Moon said...

Sierra, these two posts are perfect. I've never quite thought of writing the way you presented it, but you're right. To be successful you need to put everything you have into writing, but it is our play. It's our 'let's pretend' and if we don't love it enough to commit to it, to put in the time, the dream becomes more elusive.

Thanks for pulling this together. You've given me something to think about.

demery bader-saye said...

I love this lesson, how it gives us permission to remember why we started writing in the first place. It's so easy to lose sight of that in the journey toward publication (especially after a few rejections)... I used to tell myself that even if I knew that my only audience was going to be my little writing group, I would be happy with that and would write anyway. It's been hard to hold onto that while taking a serious run at finding representation in the hopes of being published. Thank you for the reminder!

Jamie Grey said...

Wow - so true! Now that you've pointed it out, I use writing as my play time too! Sometimes it's difficult, and not-so-fun, but there's always a piece of me that's just gleeful to be doing it in the first place. Now I just need to consciously start remembering that when I'm feeling down about not finding an agent or slogging through revisions!

Lt. Cccyxx said...

I think you are absolutely right, and especially for those of us unagented and unpublished, where we're not relying on our writing to pay the bills. Of course we need to take it seriously if we ever want to achieve our goals, but it is our choice to spend or not spend time on it. Having fun and being serious aren't mutually exclusive.

Linda G. said...

Bullseye. Which is why I call my writing "playtime" -- I love getting into the sandbox with my characters.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Thanks guys!

When people used to ask "Would you still write even if you knew you'd never be published" it was tough to answer--I guess it still is. But the answer is always ultimately going to be yes. Of course! It's just too fun not to.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Another question for you to follow on Lt.'s-- if you DID get paid for writing, would it still be fun?

I think this depends on the person. For me the answer is yes. I do get paid for my writing professionally as a tech writer and marketing writer, and I still think it's fun.

KLM said...

I'm glad to read this and hear this philosophy from a very successul author. Fun is what it's all about. If you're not enjoying what you're creating, why would anyone else? The fun-o-meter is one of the tools I use when I'm writing. If I'm not excited and/or amused by a scene, I figure out why and try to fix it.

As for enjoying writing while earning your living at it...well, I hope to find out someday. :)

Travener said...

I don't know that writing is fun for me. Once in awhile, maybe, but more often it's something I'm driven to do. Why, I don't know. My situation is more like the one Norman Mailer described: All writers are prisoners serving a life sentence.

Whether I'd take parole if it were offered is a tough question.

Lt. Cccyxx said...

"if you DID get paid for writing, would it still be fun?"

I think it would have to be or I'd just go back to doing my day job. I just think that doing it as "above and beyond" rather than as the main source of income is kind of freeing.

Ask me again how I feel when I'm a full-time writer. Ha!

Elisabeth said...

You're exactly right. Why do most of us start writing after all? Usually because we just love doing it. As a little kid I made up stories for fun as far back as I can remember, and it was just one more step to writing them down. Even though there's plenty of hard spots in writing, when you get right down to it there's nothing quite like the fun of making up a good story.

Lola Sharp said...

I don't know if 'fun' (or 'play') is the right word for me, but 'joy' and 'passion' and 'meaningful' come close. (Even during the hellish moments.)

I adore this post.

Tina Laurel Lee said...

What I love about the Sue Grafton quote is that she has to learn it again with every book. I may not have that many books under my belt but I certainly can recognize the lesson. Thanks for the reminder and the simplicity. The two things are simple but not easy!

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