Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Stop Telling People What To Do
By OFW Member:
Published: March 12, 2014
OFW Editor and really fantastic person, Katrina Monroe wrote a
blog post about writing
. Well, it was about how all you devoted writers out there like to chastise other writers for wasting their time writing or reading about writing instead of just writing.
Here’s the gist of what many new (and not so new) writers are told repeatedly by other writers online: There is nothing more important than actually writing. Don’t write about writing. Don’t waste time writing blogs, reading blogs, participating in discussions about writing, and certainly don’t tweet about when one is #amwriting. Jeeze, that’s admitting you like to, you know, have a life beyond writing books that involve contact with—ugh—people.
I disagree with anyone who says any of that. I say go ahead and do whatever floats your boat and tell those assholes to suck it.
Wait—what? Look, strangers who think they own my time, why don’t you all stop wasting
time looking for people to chastise for writing or reading about writing, and get your own ass to work, eh?
Here’s one thing those people say that I agree with: You all need to stop reading author/agent/publisher blogs like they’re a new religion.
Exactly. Read blogs because you
to procrastinate. Do it knowingly and purposefully. Don’t lie to yourself and say you’re hoping to find something new. You’re not. I’m not. No one is. Admit that certain blogs are just entertaining. You enjoy reading them. Don’t worry about getting down to writing or not getting down to it. Am I confusing you again?
The sad truth about blogs written by authors, agents and publishers is that the vast majority of content is promotional or it’s recycled information. Very little of it is new. Very little of it is ground breaking.
But that’s not a bad thing. Some content is new to you, and some of it serves to reinforce your old knowledge during those times when you feel like you’re the dumbest oaf on the planet. Writing rattles everyone’s confidence now and then. Reading blogs that confirm you know what you’re doing helps to reinforce your defences so you can go on to fight another day, maybe hammer out another chapter before the next emotional crisis.
I follow blogs that have nothing to do with writing. One of them is written by a stay-at-home mom who moonlights as a roller derby queen. She almost never writes a post anymore, but when she does, I’m the first to read it. Why? She’s hilarious.
I follow folks on Twitter and Facebook that serve no purpose in terms of my writing; Dane Cook, Daniel Tosh, John Fugelsang, and some personal friends who shall remain nameless. Why? I want to. I like them. They make me laugh, cry, think…feel. When I find myself wandering to these places, it’s not because I don’t want to write. Sometimes the overwhelming desire to procrastinate or slack off is your subconscious forcing you to acknowledge that you need a break. Take it! Don’t do it all the time of course, but if you’ve worked steadily away for hours or religiously write for a set time every day, and then one day out of seven you find yourself unable to focus, it’s because your brain needs a break. Nothing wrong with that. Go piss around in the bottomless pit that is Twitter and Pinterest. Just make sure you get your ass back in front of that screen when you’re through. If you don’t, well I don’t really care. It’s your novel that’s sitting unfinished, not mine. It’s none of my business what you do.
And you, over there with the scowl and the judgmental eyebrows, you can piss off and save your orders for someone who gives a shit what you think. I’m willing to bet that I pump out more words per day than you do. In articles alone I write no less than 3000 words every single day. Even if I only wrote 100 words, why should anyone else care? I’m willing to bet that you scolders don’t produce more than the writers you’re criticizing either. How do I know this? Because you’re obviously too busy judging and doling out your precious advice to write. How about you haul your ass back to the screen and worry about yourself?
For the rest of you who are still reading and not hating me, let’s clarify a good time to procrastinate over a bad time. There are times when you’re just being lazy too. So here are some things to ask yourself before you start slacking:
Are you fumbling to find a solution to a problem?
Sometimes a plot twist or a piece of factual information can bring everything to a screaming halt. This is a good time to shut it down and start trolling blogs and social media. Whether you go to research or whether you need to puzzle something out, do so in the way that works for you. Me? I like to catch up on blogs and fart around on Twitter and Facebook. How does that solve my problem? Sometimes I come across a blog that is about exactly what I’m working on. Other times the mindless trolling sets my mind free. Staring at the same problem for hours rarely uncovers a solution, but more often than not, once I turn my brain away from the problem, the solution jumps out from its hiding place. And hey, procrastinating isn’t only an online activity. You can go for a walk, play with the kids, or clean your toilets. I don’t recommend the latter. It’s really boring.
Are you out of ideas?
Has your manuscript petered out with a pathetic whimper at Chapter Almost Done? If so, a bit of procrastination might be the shift in gears that your creativity needs. Stop banging your blocked head on the desk and go dick around for a while. All the greatest minds spend an embarrassing amount of time dicking. They just won’t admit it.
Are you starting something new?
Shifting from one project straight into another is often a way to guarantee failure. Give yourself time to shed the skin of the previous project. Procrastinating or slacking off on the Internet, reading a book, watching a movie, or going out on the town with friends is a good way to do this. Sometimes you have already taken that time, but still can’t seem to come up with something new. Perhaps you have the idea, but it’s just not working. Reading blogs might turn something up. I’ve fleshed out one idea while reading book reviews. Someone mentioned something they hated about a popular character, and bam! There it was. The idea took shape because I realized what was wrong with my original inspiration. (For those who care to know: My protagonist was the wrong gender.)
Is there a gun to your head?
Look, it’s your book, your life, and your time. If there’s no gun to your head forcing you to punch at those keys, you’re free to do with yourself what you will. Just don’t go whining that your novel isn’t getting done. That’s your problem, not ours.
I’ve been scolded for wasting my time writing about writing too. Why am I writing about the industry? Why am I writing articles that have nothing to do with fiction? Why am I spending 8 hours working on how-to articles instead of writing my current WIP? Well, I could explain that I’ve got this whole plan, with platform and whatnot in place and things I have to do in order to pay my bills, but I’ll make it simpler than that: It’s none of your damn business.
I guess my point is that we all need to stop telling other writers what to do when we’re essentially doing the same thing. If you’re writing—and I mean writing anything—you’re still writing. Besides, if one’s ass is in the chair working, how does one know that others aren’t? Exactly, one knows because one is doing his own form of procrastinating…only it’s more annoying.
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