Thursday 4 August 2022

Summer Writing Series 5: How to keep writing

“The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.” Anne Lamott

I have this quote set as a reminder on my phone each Saturday morning. The words always make me smile and nod. “You’re so right, Anne.”

I usually write on Saturdays because I don’t have the energy after a day of work. I know there are writers who get up at 5 in the morning to get in their hour or 1000 words before work, but I have a demanding job that uses up every ounce of my body and brain. Fortunately, I have summers off. I do a lot of writing in the summer. And even though I’m not getting up at 5 in the morning to write (I get up at 5 in the morning to worry! Pointlessly! With no pay!) I’ve still managed to write 12 books in 25 years.

I look forward to my writing day throughout the week. It’s a bright star shining on my horizon. But when I open my eyes on Saturday the dread sets in. “I could skip today. I’m fine. I’ll still get the book done. I was stuck in a boring place. I’d rather read.” One or all of these thoughts might flash through my mind as I lay in bed and don’t get up.

Eventually, I make coffee, cook an egg, make toast, read something, and then dig out my computer. Sometimes I beat Anne Lamott’s quote and say, “You were so right, Anne!” Other times, the quote beats me, and I say “I'll get on that, Anne!” Butts in chairs. (That’s one of hers too.)

When I started writing, my computer took at least ten minutes to start. That’s a lot of time to waste. Now, in seconds, my computer is running, and my latest project is open. I quickly reread the last paragraph or two. “Oh yeah. . .”

Some days I get going immediately. Other days I take more time. I might need to do some research. Historical fictions takes more research. You might write a sentence and then think “If they didn’t have running water, how did they get water in winter? What were the stoves like?” It’s fine to research. Google is right there on your computer. Do some research. Get it right. Just don’t wallow.

“The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.” Even if I don’t have a great day of writing, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I’ve moved the story slightly . On a good day, the writing inspires me. And on a REALLY good day,  I see the novel finished and shining as a ray of hope in this difficult world. Which is a pretty fine way to spend my time.

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