Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Writing and the question of “Why?”

“When you get stuck – and you will get stuck – remember to ask yourself questions. Instead of stating the problems – “the princess is trapped in the high tower” – phrase it as a question – “how can I get the princess out of the high tower?” It’s amazing how much creativity can be unleashed with a question mark. For a squiggly line with a dot on the end, it wields untold power.” – Outling Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

I’ve found this helpful as I’m working away at trying to get a basic outline done for a few projects. I’m rubbish at outlining because it feels so foreign to suppose what will happen next when I’m not writing the scene. I usually have a beginning, premise, scenes, and an ending idea (though I don’t have the ending exact all the time.)

Generally I make notes and jot down ideas, then completely disregard them until I need to look up a place name, or sequence of events to make sure the continuity is all right.

Sadly, I lost a whole scene in the shuffle of writing on the word processor and pasting it into another file. It’s just completely gone. In my mad obsession to back up every file two times, I think I just saved the original version without the new additions. Of course, the word processor needs to be cleared out all the time so…it’s gone.

I’m currently shopping for a portable external hard drive to keep all original files from the word processor somewhere safe. I’ve had this happen twice now and, as you can imagine, it’s quite maddening.

“Why do you want to be published? It might be a dream of yours, but what’s behind that dream? Is it a need to prove something? A desire to be someone? A need to leave your mark on the world? A desire to be rich and/or famous? Do you feel that being published would justify your existence, as I once thought? If so, I’d like to urge you to re-examine those reasons…Being published is a nice feeling, but so is having a chocolate bar. Neither on will align the planets of your solar system or bring you ultimate peace.” – The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction

I had to think about this passage for a while. I think everyone wants to be validated through publishing, but I also think there’s a lot of us that just know we should be working towards publication for our career. Now, granted, with self-publishing, we can work on our books, put it out there, and move on to the next. I find that the readership is the main motivator for me, and get there through traditional or self publishing is fine by me.

Granted, this quote brings up the same point that Anne Lamott makes in Bird by Bird about publishing not being the ultimate goal in writing.

“I tell my students that the odds of their getting published and of it bringing them financial security, peace of mind, and even joy are probably not that great. Ruin, hysteria, bad skin, unsightly tics, ugly financial problems, maybe; but probably not peace of mind. I tell them that I think they ought to write anyway.” – Bird by Bird

When I take the pretence of just writing so I can have a book birthday, or the pretty cover to show off on my website, I can focus on getting the job done. Granted, I need deadlines and goals though because right now I’m in this world of more than one project on the go and no real end in sight. However, organizing each one a lot more than I have been is helping matters, I think.

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