Friday, December 11, 2009

The Process: Neglection

As this is one of the biggest parts of my writing, I thought it would only be fitting to start out detailing my process with this.

More than anything, I find excuses not to write. I know that I'm not alone in this. There are always cat boxes to be cleaned, vacuums to run, Christamas lights to put up, video games to conquer, journals to scope out and submit to, blogs to type, wives to spend time with, comics to make, and on and on and on. However, sometimes, it feels like an art form, the way you skillfully dodge that time set aside to write or ignore that niggling voice that yells at you to sit down, shut your gob, and write. For me though, every day that passes, two things occur.

First: I start thinking more and more about whatever I'm working on, so much so that it often starts robbing me of sleep because I can't turn my brain off. Every now and again, this is a good thing. I think the story through, listen to my characters and figure out what in the world is going on in their world. Plot holes and revision ideas start to pop up. New scenes form. Characters grow more real and distinct than before.

The downside is that I'm not actually writing. Good as many of these discoveries and revelation moments are, no words fill the page. Even worse, I can often get distracted by other projects and new ideas, almost forgetting what I'm working on in the first place, making it that much harder to stick with my story--especially if the entire thing plays out in my head. Once it completes itself, either on paper or in my head, I loose that excitement of discovery, that excitement that drives me to write in the first place. Slight as it may be, any loss in momentum is very detrimental, a fact even more compounded by the other occurrence caused by my negligence.

Second, I feel a wall building, stone by stone, a wall that must be broken down before I can write again--and this disassembling can take more time than it should. Every day that I don't put a word to a page pushes me that much further from my story. The further I am from my story, the harder it is for me to hear my characters, to follow them around, and tell their story. If I build up to high of a wall, I forget what I was ever doing with these people to begin with and often, my story will die, dangling worse than some peoples' participles. From there, it's hard not to simply cut loose and start on something new.

As any writer will probably tell you, it's finding a balance in all that you do. Neglecting your work is fine--but only enough to look at it with fresh eyes. I suppose this is why many writers suggest that you work on something new before revising your most recently completed work. The problem for me is then finding the time for both revising and working on the new material (but that is another day's post). For now, I have to give myself both time to think about my work while simultaneously working on said work. I think this comes in the form of adapting to the unexpected (something I will get into another time as well).

I think, that the best course of action, is to embrace your negligence, to realize that YOU WILL divert from your writing plans, that YOU WILL miss days of writing. Once this is made apparent, it's easier not to be too hard on yourself for not writing because of an emergency or bad day or whatever. Just remember that by embracing your negligence you are bringing an enemy closer. You don't want it to become your friend, you just want to keep a better eye on it, keep it in check, notice when it's taking over the conversation. Because if you know what it is up to, you can better retaliate with specific writing schedules and the inevitable reschedules.

You've done your neglecting for today. Go show your story/novel/poem some love. It misses you.

1 comment:

Shreds said...

Ack. I am so there, and by there I mean on the downside. Squandered my beautiful snow days on trivia. Missing the structure of deadlines. Sigh.