Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On Attitude

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that the most important thing I can bring to the table in this writing adventure of mine is attitude. 

Up until the last couple of years, I never really had any sort of plan regarding the writing.  I wrote when I felt like it (which meant when I had an idea that was burning to get out), and if I didn't feel like it, I didn't write.  So stuff got done, but in spurts.  I'd draft a novel in a string of frenzied, dawn-to-midnight obsessive work sessions, and then it would languish in a drawer, because once the first draft magic was done, where was the fun?  Or I'd start a first draft, full of fire and energy, and then I'd realize that my characters were up a tree surrounded by alligators, and I had no idea how to get them out, so I'd let it slide because it was too hard to sit down and figure it out.

In a nutshell, when the going got tough, the tough slunk off to find something else to do.

Since making the commitment to myself to look at this writing thing as a job instead of a hobby, I find that my attitude has changed in ways that are making me a lot more productive, and it doesn't seem like the quality of my work is suffering. 

Now I'm writing regularly and I'm consistently producing 1000 to 2000 words a day.  Stuff is getting done, and it's getting done because I'm sitting down every day and doing it.  When I get my characters up a tree, instead of giving up on them, I write it out—I grab a notebook and start brainstorming possible solutions.  And what's interesting is that a solution does come, sometimes fairly quickly, sometimes after a good night's sleep, but I'm finding that if I stick with the story, things seem to have a way of working out. 

The other thing I've noticed now that I'm writing every day whether I feel like it or not is that I'm not seeing a whole lot of difference in the quality of the work, whether I slog through 500 words that I really don't feel like doing, or breeze through 3000 words and feel like I could keep going all night. 

So, yeah.  Attitude.

Wish it hadn't taken me so long to figure that out.


  1. That's exactly what we were taught to do when I took a writing class. Sit down to write every day at the same time, in the same place, even if it's just to compose a storyboard.

    1. I'd always been taught that, too, but putting it into practice was a challenge. Up until recently I was a total pantser--I hated the idea of an outline. What I've discovered recently is that outlines, too, are all about attitude. I have to look at them as a suggestion rather than a cage, and that seems to work well for me. And it's amazing how much faster I can finish a story when I have some clue as to what I'm doing and where I 'm going with it!