I start off this morning with a little advice from Henry Miller. He’s the sort of writer I’d like to become: banned everywhere for writing interesting things. Who doesn’t want that sort of notice?
As noted on the Novel Spaces website, Miller left behind eleven points of writing advice:
1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to Black Spring. (At the time this was his WiP.)
3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
5. When you can’t create you can work.
6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.
I have rules that I stick to, or at least do my best to dance to their tune. It’s not always possible–yesterday was a great example of how you can’t always write when you want to write–but I still get my writing in every day, even when I feel as if I’m drowning in a pool of fetid water, surrounded by the crap that are my stories.
That was this morning, when I crawled out of bed, by the way. Now I feel much better.
Most of the time I get lost on that eleventh point; I also get lost on the tenth as well, which is distracting as hell, because that’s happened to me for the last three stories I’ve written. But back to the eleventh . . . with social media all over the place, it’s easy to lose the signal because you’re trapped in the noise. (Yes, that was a Peter Gabriel reference.) It’s a simple matter to roll over to an online group, and think, “Oh, I’ll just check in and see what’s happening,” and before you know it an hour has gone by because you’re eye-locked upon something that, more than likely, has you scratching your head because you can’t believe what you’re reading.
Last night a friend of mine summed up a feeling for me pretty succinctly, which she does well. This happened in a group of which I’ve been a member for some time, but where I’ve stopped participating because it’s become more of a social gathering hole than anything else. One person was lamenting how people have begun turning on one another in the group, and they can’t understand why it’s happening. After a few posts where people were kind of saying, “Mean people suck,” my friend stepped in and said, “Because all that gets posted here is insane, time wasting crap.” The moral being, when you post insane, time wasting crap, you draw to those posts the people who love to wallow in said crap.
Rule Eleven is important. You want to write, you write. You don’t continue asking if you think it’s strange that you’re looking up techniques for dismembering a body, or what’s a good name for an alien (I always go with Bob, you can’t miss with that name), or your main character tells you they want to have an affair with the cute girl down at the Steak n’ Shake, but you want them to go skydiving, what’s a person to do?
What you do is write.
Cut out the noise; listen to the signal.