Now that I've turned in my Final Pass Pages, I'm allowing myself some "me time," which is, to say, time to write whatever I want before I turn my attention to the quivering mess that is the Indelible sequel rough draft that is cowering in the corner awaiting judgement. (Note to self: it won't be pretty.) That said, I've gone and noodled around with an outline that I've been waiting to try and am happy to have cranked out several thousand words yesterday, leaving the keyboard still wanting to write more; an almost guarantee that there will be good sit-down-and-start-writing session in the morning.
I've recently gone through a period where it was hard to write. (See: impossible to write. See also: No writing.) I needed to creatively refuel and during that time I found myself doing what every other not-writing writer does to make themselves feel better when not writing: I played the not-writing game. The game goes something like this: I make outlines, I scribble down bits of dialogue, I do "research" on the Internet, I world-build, I find actors that look like my characters or songs that I want to associate with the story, I sketch little pictures or find maps or snip out architecture pics or whatever else might suit my burgeoning idea. This is all very pretty and interesting and opens worlds I never knew existed such as metallurgy or phonographic recording. Yes, it's all terribly inspirational but it's not, y'know, writing.
I'm not fooled. And neither is Maggie.
I know we want to hear the hard truth and get some tough love when we're well and truly stuck and can't think our way out of the box we've bricked ourselves into, so I'm going to say the words that every writer dreads to hear when they are up against creative brain-block and begin to panic by making playlists and Wiki search catalogs: Writers Write. That's it. And if you're not writing, you're not a writer (not in that moment, anyway). Sorry. I know that's a harsh and horrible thing to say and not at all like the "Yays!" and "Huzzahs!" and Paying It Forward cheerleading I normally try to pump out into the world so we're all karmically a little better off and stop bonking our collective heads against the keyboards, but sometimes it needs saying. Yes, I love maps and cool pictures and Pinterest boards and sweeping music and pretty dresses and obscure science references as much as the next geeky person, but there comes a time when your Muse, your good friend or possibly reality must come in with a rolled-up manuscript and thwack us upside the head with orders to GET WRITING for our own good. Sometimes, we must listen to the Muse instead of the Siren's song. (In this scenario the Muse is Butt In Chair & the Siren is Everything Else!)
Research is not writing. Playlists are not writing. Outlines and note-taking and creating folders about your world history or ideal movie cast are not writing. Good ideas aren't writing. Character sketches aren't writing. Blogging and tweeting and maintaining an "online presence" isn't writing. And even the best conversations that spark off a million thoughts in your head that you can't wait to write down isn't writing unless you, well, write them down. These are all parts of the *process* of writing; the background noise, the warm-up, the tuning of instruments that your brain might need to go through in order to get ready to write. And that's fine! But it's not, y'know, writing.
Frex, if you went out to hear the Chicago Philharmonic play an evening of Mozart and experienced two hours of tuning-up accompanied by Powerpoint displays of nature photography, I imagine you'd leave disappointed thinking, "Well, THAT was a waste of time!" And while this stuff is *not* just a waste of time, it's time taken from your actual writing, which might be better spent *WRITING* and then polishing up the rough bits later. (I am a big believer in brackets such as [insert bit about pan flutes here] or "they traveled past [XYZ] on their way to Montreal" as a major time-savor and staving off the yawning pit of Internet distractions!) Distractions eat time and you have a finite amount of time, ergo DISTRACTIONS ARE KILLING YOU!** If you have one life to live, go write.
So please close that folder of gakked photos, put down that reference book of Baroque home decor, say good-bye to your tweeps for a while at least and give yourself permission to GET WRITING. >thwack!< With love, Go. Write. Now. ** How's THAT for motivation? ;-)