The Holidays are Over…Time to Get Back to Writing (Insecure Writers’ Support Group)

Author’s Note: Another first Wednesday of the month, another post for The Insecure
Writer’s Support Group
. Be sure to check out the many other writers participating in this blog hop. Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for leading the IWSG.

This Blogging<br /><br /> Things Works Wonders! (Insecure Writer's Support Group)

What’s up? You writing? You better be.

Okay, maybe I’m coming on a bit harsh, but in the way that I’m possibly addressing the insecure writer in all of right now who’s struggling with a work in progress or wondering whether they’ve got what it takes to do this writing thing, whom I’m really addressing is me. Because the holidays are over. The gifts have been opened. Time spent with loved ones has been enjoyed. Meals and drink savored. Now it’s time to get off my ass and do some goddamned writing.

Maybe for some of you, December’s a good time to write. Not for me, and not this past December. I was essentially running a household solo for nearly a month due to my wife recovering from knee surgery. As much as I wanted to write, I felt I really couldn’t devote neither the time nor the energy needed to write, not even gibberish. The odd blog post, yes, but not even 500 words.

January is here, and with January comes the promise of the New Year and the frenzy of resolutions to be made and kept. And likely broken. I dislike resolutions. I dislike planning. But I have resolved to make specific plans with regards to my personal life, my professional life, and my writing life, and not just make those plans, but keep them. It’s not enough to make those plans; I need to make plans that are realistic. I can’t possibly write 5 novels in one year, but I will damn well finish the novel I started 60 days ago.

Ah, yes, my work-in-progress…for once, it’s something that’s not making me gnash my teeth, pull what’s left of my hair, question my sanity (actually, I don’t need to write in order to question my sanity), and ponder if I’m making yet another mistake. I heard something the other day during a podcast, an interview with Anthony Bourdain, talking about his writing process for his first book, Kitchen Confidential:

“I wrote as if no one was going to read this, which was very liberating for me, for someone who’d never written before, and who could probably count on eight guys who worked in a kitchen to read what I finished.”

Exactly. I’m taking that exact approach, to write as if no one’s going to read it. Sounds crazy (and I know crazy), but what it means is you’re writing the book you want to read, not what conventional wisdom dictates you should write in order to sell. Damn those conventions, I say.

And with those conventions comes the hinderance of time. The demands of my job, my home life with my wife and child, those responsibilities come first, but my ambitions will be met. So I will meet them, one hour each day, more if possible. With that hour, I’m giving myself permission to write as many words as possible – this week, 500 words one day, more than 700 the next – or as little. I wrote a few weeks back that if I’m going to finish what I started, back when NaNoWriMo ’13 kicked off, I’m going to finish it on my own clock, in my own terms. One word at a time.

So it’s back to writing for me.

And it’s back to writing for you as well.

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30 thoughts on “The Holidays are Over…Time to Get Back to Writing (Insecure Writers’ Support Group)

  1. Quoting from your post (there really needs to be a quote option when you reply to comments, WordPress!):

    “I’m taking that exact approach, to write as if no one’s going to read it. Sounds crazy (and I know crazy), but what it means is you’re writing the book you want to read, not what conventional wisdom dictates you should write in order to sell. Damn those conventions, I say.”

    I think you and I are mostly on the same page with this, but as I was looking up quotes on “audience” the other day, I came across this from John Steinbeck, which probably captures my feeling about the topic more than Bourdain’s quote about eight guys in his kitchen.

    “Your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person-a real person you know, or an imagined person-and write to that one.”

    We don’t write expecting no one to read what we’ve written. And we certainly don’t blog with that expectation (otherwise we’d just keep a diary that we stuffed under our mattress every evening). I’m not sure if anyone is capable of writing without considering their audience, but it’s paralyzing to think about them too much.

    • I can’t imagine writing to a mass audience – I really don’t know how James Patterson and Dan Brown do it, other than just for the lure of instant millions of dollars – nor can I imagine writing for a large blog audience. I have my readers. I know they’ll read it. If they want to reply, that’s great. The point for is that I wrote what I wanted to write, whether it’s a blog post or a short story or a novel. Someone will read it. Someone will enjoy it. Someone will want to throw it across the room. It’s the reaction that matters, not how many people read it.

      Ah, but if there were a way to gauge how much of a reaction, no?

      • I may not understand your response to my comment, but I’ll reply anyway–isn’t there a way to gauge the reaction to our writing, or at least, our blogging? The comment section!

        In that way, writing a blog is much more like performance than, say, writing a novel. You get an immediate response from the audience: sometimes that response is thunderous applause and sometimes that response is stark silence.

        While I’m mostly with you on the “Write what you want, audience be damned!” bandwagon, I have to confess that I do write with that one person in mind a la Steinbeck. As I’m writing, I always think of a particular friend and ask myself, “Will he think this is funny?” He would most certainly find a post about anal sex funny. But most of the folks I see commenting on my blog–um, not so much.

        • My “gauge reaction” musing was actually in reference to my writing, but not necessarily my blogging, but I completely understand your point. If I blogged continuously and not a single person responded, I’d have to wonder if I was just talking to myself, and why I wasn’t able to elicit some kind of reaction from someone. To your point, when I fashion my blogs, I always write them with a reader in mind. I know someone’s going to read it and comment. Whether it’s one person or twenty, I’m going to get a response. So maybe I am fishing for a response. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so harsh on bloggers who solicit blog requests, then? I dunno.

          As for blogs about anal sex, I find them funny, only because I have a warped sense of humor.

  2. No one reads half my shit anyway. Okay, all of my shit. Oh, and my post is about cussing, when it’s appropriate and how, if you know who you are and stand fast in that knowledge, it frees you to write unabashedly…damnit. 🙂

    I’m with you on writing what I can, when I can, until it gets done.

  3. Always can count on you for some good ass-kicking inspiration, Gus. That’s what keeps me coming back here! And that is an interesting comment that Bourdain made. Filling your head with doubt about who the hell would ever want to read your stuff while you are trying to write it is certainly a progress killer. But, I guess I always write everything with the idea (sometimes delusional idea) that someone wants to read it. And, as Karen (above) says, it is paralyzing to think about the audience too much.

    Looking forward to reading more from you this year.

    • I often find inspiration about writing from non-writing sources. Not that Bourdain wouldn’t be considered a literary source – he’s earned his chops as a writer, after all – but he’s not what one would consider a literary icon. His quote really resonates with me.

      Glad to have you along for the ride!

  4. Thanks, Gus. I needed that! I, too, was unable to write in December, at least the last three weeks (in the first week, I kept my NaNo momentum and finished my Crappy First Draft, then I did. . . nothing). I just started work again this week.

    Oh, and that audience thing? I wrote most of The Ninja Librarian for my co-workers at the library, and no one else. That seemed to work very well–thinking only of a narrow, friendly audience let me write very comfortably.

  5. I think my mind works in the opposite way – the thought of no-one ever reading what I write makes me wonder if its worth the effort.

    Maybe I should write as if I’ve already got a huge publishing deal lined up!

  6. Your plan sounds perfect. If we are thinking about who will be reading it, we are THINKING instead of just writing. It is inspiring and reassuring to read about your challenges and determination – thank you!

  7. Pingback: The Best Response to Bad Criticism (Insecure Writers’ Support Group) | Out Where the Buses Don't Run

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