Monday, July 04, 2011

Writing Lakeside


I’m up early. Sitting on the dock of a mountain lake, looking at the snowy peaks, and listening to the water lap against the shore and the occasional ski boat roar past. This morning I’m working on a short story I’ve been working on forever. My approach to writing is the opposite of a lot of what you’ll read from the writing gurus. I feel like an oddball compared to them. It’s one of the many reasons my confidence isn’t as strong as it could be when it comes to writing. I do things so differently from many other writers.

For lots of writers, word count is a big focus when they are writing their first drafts. Not for me. I understand the appeal. Word count is something trackable. You can measure your progress, mark how much you’ve written, and even share that with people in your social networks. I’ve tried to track words, but it doesn’t work for me. I’m too slow. It’s depressing.

One of the reasons I’m slow is because I don’t take the time to write as much as I should. In some ways that’s understandable. I’m a mom and it’s summer. The kids are around more, blah, blah, blah. But the main reason I’m slow is my writing process. I write and revise and write and revise. It’s difficult for me to keep churning  out first draft type writing for more than a couple of pages. I have to go back and rework it until I feel ready to move on. That can take awhile. And I get stuck, not only on the level of trying to polish the writing so that it says what I want it to say in a clear, effortless-to-the-reader way, but also on the story level. It takes time to come up with stories that are interesting, compelling, and different. I like being different. I like having characters that you haven’t seen before and situations and resolutions that aren’t what you expect. All of that takes time.

Does that mean I’m a hobbiest and not serious about being an author? I don't think so. I’m not going to have several books come out a year; they just take too darn long to do. But I refuse to crank out writing that doesn’t work for me so that I’ll have a high daily word count. Maybe I take it all too seriously. But my goal has never been to put out stories just for the sake of putting them out. I want to be able to stand behind them and know that I am satisfied with them. They might not work for everyone, but they work for me.  I make them the best that I can. And in order for me to do that, it takes time.

Time spent writing on the dock of a mountain lake isn't so bad, however. Now I'm going to get back to it!

2 comments:

craig said...

She did it... her way! You are an excellent writer, so whatever you are doing works. I too see the word counters posts, but to me it also means nothing. They have to be words worth writing and volume is not substitute for quality. As editing is always essential, lots of it and repeatedly so, your baby-step process is as good as any. I just hope in this short story no babies get shoved in closets. Maybe bosses, or politicians this time so we can all cheer ;)

R.E. (Renée) Chambliss said...

No closets, Craig? Looks like I'm going to have to do some more editing...

I think there are some good writers who use word count to motivate them, it just doesn't work for me. And I also think there are some newer writers who believe word count is the most important thing to focus on. Obviously, I disagree!