Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Writing Begets Writing

This isn't exactly a novel thought.  A google search for the phrase "writing begets writing" comes back with quite a few results. There are a lot fewer hits, though, for the equally true converse "NOT writing begets NOT writing."

For me, at least, it's incredibly easy to NOT write.  I've repeatedly gone years without doing any serious writing at all.  Then something will spark me to start writing again, and all of a sudden, I'll be at it full-tilt. Until something comes along and I stop writing and start not-writing.

I've gone through this off-and-on cycle as far back as I can remember.  I dabbled at lots of various juvenile writing when I was, well, a juvenile.  Then around my senior year of high school, something led me to start writing. A lot.  Just in the last few days, I found my old folder of (handwritten) records of story and poetry submissions to magazines in the 1990-1992 timeframe. There were probably over a hundred submissions, in all, for around two dozen different works.  (I've always been surprised when a professional writer indicates that they've forgotten about something they wrote. I guess I shouldn't be surprised any more. Several of the titles I'd written on those pages meant absolutely NOTHING to me.)

Then, around early 1992, I just stopped writing, other than papers for my classes. But, from time to time, I'd start back up in a burst of activity.  One summer was spent in part working with two co-writers on an epic comedy screenplay.  (This, most likely, did not play to my strengths as a writer. But it was an interesting experience all the same.)  Probably the second most-sustained amount of writing I've done was in 2007. I wrote quite a few new short stories during that time, a couple of which have been published.

For a while during late-2007 I was doing a "Seinfeld chain" where I wrote at least 500 words every day.  I wrote the longest story I've ever written then -- a mystery of about 9000 words.  Then I hit a bit of a dry patch.  For a few days I said "Well, I'll do revising on some of the things I've written, and I'll give myself credit for that."  My self saw through that ruse real quickly and said "Hey, we're back to NOT writing now. Groovy."

And that, mostly, is where things sat until recently. I was still occasionally looking at my submission log (now in a nice spreadsheet) and sending out what I'd written, but there were even long lags in this activity.

In the last few weeks, I've written two new stories, come up with an idea for NaNoWriMo, made notes on another story, and done some moderately-heavy revisions to one of those 2007 stories.  Clearly, the switch is back to ON.

So, why write all this?  Heck if I know.  I'm writing now, right?  So, I guess I'm writing about writing. And hopefully some of my friends are reading this, and they'll ask me from time to time "So, how's the writing going?" Maybe that will help me keep from going back to NOT writing.


  1. You totally need to do NaNoWriMo with me. Even if you don't finish a novel, it's a good exercise in willpower and "butt in chair time".


  2. I'm intending to, at this point.

    I've signed up for the NaNoWriMo site and I have a (very) general sense of what I'd write. I'm intending to have a high-level outline put together between now and 10/31.

    Keep reminding me. After all, that's a big part of the point of me "talking" about this. Much harder for me to let myself off the hook when everyone's watching! :)