September 1, 2010

Not Writing

As far as jobs go, novel writing is not that hard. Writing doesn't require heavy lifting or exposure to unpleasant weather. It doesn't involve responsibility for the safety of real people or the success of a corporation. A writer doesn't have to answer to unreasonable bosses, difficult coworkers, or annoying customers. A day of writing doesn't start with putting on ironed business attire or a uniform, and it doesn't end by changing out of work clothes covered in dirt or ickier substances.

Writing isn't easy, either. Few jobs are. Producing an entire novel takes mental effort, time, discipline, and persistence. Revision requires even more of all these. Writing is work taken on only by people who have a desire to do it, but it's still work.

Today I'm pondering whether the hardest part of writing is not writing. I'm not saying, "Oh, my soul so yearns to write that any day spent not writing fills me with pain!" I mean that if I'm working on a project and devote several hours to it and make some kind of progress, I feel pretty good. If I only get through a few paragraphs, I look back on the day as more difficult than if I do a few pages, but either way, I think to myself that I'm pretty damn lucky to have this job, incomeless as it may currently be. But if I intend to write and instead spend hours doing everything in the world except focus on my novel, I mostly think to myself that I suck and this is an impossible task and my novel will never be good enough so there's no point in even trying.

Guess which kind of day I'm having?

Memo to self: There is one simple way to stop not writing, and it is to write. It may not be easy, but it can't be as hard and unpleasant as what you're doing now.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ Chérie l'Ecrivain at The Rejectionist talks about coincidences in life and fiction.

A resolution on the relative statuses of mainstream, literary, and genre fiction by the Bookavore. (Thanks, The Millions!)

1 comment:

Anna Scott Graham said...

Such swings we endure! Hoping you enjoy a wordy day today...

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