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September 6, 2009

The Process of Writing (or "It's Not Going to Write Itself!")

One of my favourite writing comments, and I can't quote it exactly, basically says that once you've submitted a story or a manuscript in an attempt to get it published, you are no longer an "aspiring" author, but an "unpublished" one. Given that reasoning, I am now an "unpublished" author since I sent around a story a couple of years ago to a few magazines. Nobody wanted it, but that's the furthest I've ever gotten along in the process.

Sometimes I wonder if I have what it takes?

My main problem is just sitting down and doing the writing. I've heard that something like 80% of writing is the hard work of actually getting the words down on paper. I'm not sure of the exact figure, but it's something like that. Anyway, that's my main problem: sitting down at the computer and banging out the words. I don't have any problem banging out blog posts and reviews (ok, some days the motivation just isn't there, but I know they will eventually get done). But for some reason, actually sitting down and getting the words on the screen for a story just doesn't happen.

I am a font of ideas; I just don't develop them. Maybe that's because the idea isn't worth developing? I don't know. My trip to Ohio this summer really inspired a story that sounded in my mind like it would be a great one. The night before we left Ohio, I couldn't sleep because I wanted to get all of the concepts that were going through my head down in my notes on my iPhone (have I told you yet that I love my iPhone?). The general plot, characters, the idea behind the story. It's all there. It kept me up late into the night telling my wife about all of this fabulous stuff that was occurring to me (thankfully, she was going to be up anyway so I wasn't actually keeping her up). I was so excited!!!

I get home, and I haven't done a thing with them. They're still on my phone, and the ideas still percolate in my mind, but they sit there unused and unaddressed. I keep swearing that I'm going to sit down and write the damned thing, and I keep envisioning what the reactions of my family and friends would be to this wonderful story that I would produce, but that's never going to happen if I don't actually sit down and write, is it?

Another thing I've heard about writing is that writers have a burning need to get the stories and concepts that they think about out there. It may just be for themselves and they'll never publish it, but they have that fiery "need" that just must be quenched.

So does the fact that I am not all-consumed by this need mean that I'll never produce anything?

Anyway, writing this post has enabled me to walk my mind through a few things, which I guess is one reason we write these things, right? I mean, the ultimate goal is for it to be interesting to our readers, but sometimes we have to be selfish and use it for our own ends.

And then we publish it and see if it will help anybody else. I hope it does (both help me and anybody else).


  1. Have I mentioned to you I'm writing a book?

    Believe me I can understand having the concept there but just lacking the motivation to start typing. Whatever you do don't force it. If you get in the mood to write, write a paragraph. Still in the mood, try another. Not in the mood, walk away. You force it and it'll sound forced. You go with the flow of it and it'll come. Motivation is a tricky, fickle thing, isn't it?

    As for my book, I wrote a few chapters written and then stopped. I haven't worked on it in a couple months now. I simply lack motivation. Doesn't make me done.

    It'll happen when the time is right. For you and me both.

  2. No wonder you were tired on the way home. I think I know what your ideas were for a story. The last comment makes sense. You can't force it. I know you have it in you to write a wonderful book but you have to have the passion to do it. I believe in you you know. Just keep taking notes & one day you will sit down & the words will flow.

  3. Hey Karen!

    Yeah, you did mention that. Motivation can definitely be tricky, that's for sure. Sometimes I'll have a story almost totally fleshed out in my mind and the words will just flow. Most of the time, though, they sit there unused.

    People who write for a living who I have interacted with (mostly the Star Trek authors on the Trek bulletin board, but also Jim C. Hines) don't have the luxury of not forcing it, having to just grind out a certain amount a day, even if they're not motivated (though I guess money is a good motivator!) and then revising it later.

    My problem is that I fantasize about the aftermath without being willing to actually put in the work that getting to that aftermath requires. :)

  4. Mom, I seriously doubt you know what my story idea is, though you may guess the inspiration for it. LOL

    Thanks for the encouragement, though. To both of you.


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