When I look at the maps and the building designs I’ve produced for my next story, I see things. I have visions in my head of the action that will happen there, I see people walking from place to place, I realize what some of these blocked out places are supposed to be–such as realizing that those open places on the second floor should be bathrooms–and I go to work making them so.
Camp is getting closer, it’s growing in size. I’m taking it easy this time along, and I realize I need to set up a spreadsheet so I can track my progress. Not that I need to do that, but it’s fun. Next to cooking smores at night while sipping on lemonade and Wild Turkey as you discuss the crap you’ve churned out that day, watching your word count grow is one of those things that gives you a sense of accomplishment. I realize that’s one of the reason some of us watch our counts, because it’s a conformation that we are actually doing something.
Which brings me to the Deep Though of the Day: how does one get motivated for such things? Yesterday, yet again, I observed a question that seems to come quite often around these times before a NaNo event–how do you find the motivation to write? How do you psych yourself to create? How do you go about writing? And one of these pleas came with the code, “Don’t tell me ‘just write!’ There’s more to it than that.”
Um, no. There isn’t more to it than that.
As I’ve pointed out from time to time, writing is a lot of work. Maybe not the actual act of writing, but creating a story can be a pain, because creativity requires a bit of blood, sweat, and tears. I told someone I may spend a quarter of my time physically setting up a story, but when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing, I’m thinking about my story–or the next story to come.
Most of all, I’m writing. Figure if I’m doing a thousand words every ninety minutes, then a twenty-five thousand word story is going to take you two thousand, two hundred fifty minutes to write. That’s thirty-seven hours and thirty minutes, in case you don’t have a calculator handy. If it takes you two hours to write a thousand words, then you’re looking at fifty hours for the same wordage.
Look at that time. To write a novella, you’re going to spend at least one working week writing. To produce a short novel, you’ll need a couple of week to two-and-a-half weeks. To write a novel that clocks out between eighty and one hundred thousand words, you’ll need four to six weeks.
It is all about writing.
For a long time I wouldn’t write. I had a voice that kept saying, “You suck, so why bother?” and I wouldn’t write. What I did, instead, was look for my motivation, my reason to write.
What I found was this: if I don’t write, then I’ll never finish the stories I want to tell. So start writing, baby.
I believe it was Stephen King who had one of the simplest formulas for getting rid of writer’s block. It went like this: sit down at whatever you use to write. Start writing. Write down names. Write out your grocery list. Write down addresses. Write out songs you love. Write out names of cities. Keep writing. It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you are writing. After a few pages of that, start writing your story, because if you have a story in you, it’ll come out.
For ten years my problem was this: I thought I needed a reason to write. I thought I needed motivation.
I only needed to write.