As a geek, I read way too much. I read way too much about writing. Often there seems no point to much of that reading about writing, really, but I do it for some reason that compels. Nearly all of it washes over me – blah blah blah, same old, same old – but when something strikes me, it hits hard.
In “Fierce on The Page: Become the Writer You Were Meant to Be and Succeed on Your Own Terms,” Sage Cohen asks: “Who can you count on for feedback that helps move your work ahead?”
My answer is more important than it first seems: I can count on the Inner City Writers Workshop, a group of disparate writers whose only commonalities are dreams of fame and fortune; at least a modicum of talent (all eight of us are about equal, possessing quite some skills and rough edges); a work ethic within the chaos of life; humor; quick minds. We meet fortnightly. We read and critique. We support, we suggest, we yearn for each other.
Writing those words unearths the real significance of ICWW: no one else in my life always “moves my work forward.” Let me ensure I dig in for the crew.
I’m not drafting, back in the 40s and 50s, I’m taking research notes, forward into the 60s and 70s and even later. I know drafting words is the key for me, right now, so why detour into research? Well, if I don’t keep research ahead of wordsmithing, I’ll get swamped sometime down the track. Instinctively, a couple of weeks on this guff is the right thing to do, right now. Am I right? Who knows.
If you were a reactor designer, wouldn’t you be enthralled?
Meg Wolitzer in Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do, edited by Meredith Marat:
While I’m writing, I ask myself the question that a reader inevitably asks a writer: why are you telling me this. There has to be an erotic itch, a sense of book as hot object, the idea that what’s contained in the book is the information you’ve always needed. . . . Imperative is the kind of thing we associate with urgent, external moments – say, with political causes. I also associate it with art. . . . The most difficult time for me as a writer is before I have a central guiding idea for a book. Once I have it I feel reassured. It’s like having an inhaler in your pocket, if you’re an asthmatic.
Unsettled but now back into Chapter 5, scene by scene. A fiery afternoon. Let’s aim to finish this chapter by Wednesday!
Laraine Herring in her On Being Stuck: Tapping into the Creative Power of Writer’s Block:
Begin keeping a word bag. . . . These bags can contain any word you gather throughout your day: single words, phrases, sounds, textures, smells, tastes, experiences. You can keep them on your smartphone, record them in an old-fashioned notebook, or even write them on slips of paper and place them in an actual bag. You don’t have to know why you’re selecting the words. You don’t have to know where or if they’ll fit. You are just creating a nonlinear word record of your day.