Thursday, May 26, 2011

"I can fix bad writing... I can't fix a blank page."

This is a famous Nora Roberts quote. I’ve heard her say it countless of times in her “Chat With” at Nationals. It is usually in response to the questions she’s asked about how she is able to write so much and so fast. Doesn’t she need to get inspired? No. Doesn’t she need her muse? No. Doesn’t she ever get writer’s block? No.

Nora Roberts goes to work every day and writes. Period. It’s her job to produce pages and she does it. What has me thinking about this line lately is the fact that while she does make it happen every day, it’s not always good. Especially not the first time around and that’s okay.

I’m recently back on a deadline and trying to get myself back into writing shape. For me writing is a muscle. And just like a body can go to crap if you don’t exercise it, my ability to produce pages after going months without doing any serious writing has also gone to crap.

But I’m okay with the effort of rebuilding that writing muscle. It feels good. Like starting a new exercise routine before it gets boring. I feel energized and ready to WRITE! And after getting in a few hours during the week and a lot of hours on the weekend slowly my page count is growing.

The problem was when I was working yesterday I was boring myself with what I was writing. I can’t even imagine how awful it would be for someone to read it. In that moment I panicked.

What’s the point of doing this work if it’s no good? Am I just wasting my time?

Then I remembered that all too famous quote. I can fix what I’ve done. But having nothing, no pages, no boring scenes, no awful stilted dialogue… well that’s just a book not written.

So I continue to plug away and take comfort in the fact that when I’m done I might have four hundred pages of crap – but hopefully it will be fixable crap. I believe I read where Nora wasn’t attending this year’s Nationals and I’ll miss her. I’ll miss that Chat With where she gives the same answers year in and year out to all the newbies who come to find out what her “magic” is. It never hurts to have a refresher course.


Karen Whiddon said...

I so hear you! Me of the numerous rewrites and start overs.

And I thought I was the only one who got bored with her own writing, LOL!

Eileen said...

You know, it's a quote I repeat to myself at exactly those moments. I'm also surprised at how often when I got back to fix things, they're not quite as bad as I thought they were. It's such good practice to just get the story down on the paper.

Way to work those muscles, Steph!

Molly O'Keefe said...

Yesterday I had to write the scene in a sequel wherein two characters discuss in a way that is fresh and interesting all the information they need from the last story so to better understand this story.

I wanted to put my head through my computer. Talk about boring...

And my instinct is to always say well, if it's boring to me writing it, it must be boring to the reader therefore I have to cut it - but I've cut prematurely so often and been burned that now I leave it in because Eileen's right - sometimes it's not as bad as we think and it was only our mood that day.

Nora not at Nationals? Strange. Steph - in whose face will you shake your boobs? (that's how I met steph...she was shaking her Ta Tas in Nora Roberts face. Not kidding.)

Sinead M said...

Writing is a muscle that does need to be exercised. It's so hard to get back into it, but somedays, especially these days, I'd rather face a blank page than fix the stuff I've written.
For me, writing new stuff is easier.

Maureen McGowan said...

I find the more books I write the less willing I am to write stuff when I'm sure it isn't working. But I usually try to keep pushing anyway. Some days the brain isn't working at first but often trying helps. I'm more likely to work stuff out while typing or writing than thinking.

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