Salutations, boys and girls! It’s that time of year again: the time when we sadly turn our thoughts away from the cramazing, insane glory that is NaNoWriMo and devote ourselves once again to the responsibilities of the rest-of-the-year writing life. I would love to entertain you with more NaNo-related thoughts that cropped up over this past week, the first week after the hullaballoo that is our writerly November — but I suspect that if I don’t make efforts to return to our regularly scheduled programming, I might get in trouble with Aaron. He might cease thinking I’m a genius. I can’t risk that even for you, my dearest inklings.
So. Here I am, once again, to regale you with the vagaries of my writerly education. If you noted the title of this article, you might be thinking I plan to discuss how Twitter encourages brevity and useful self-editing because of the 160-characters-per-tweet limit, etc., etc. Alas and alack, though those might be helpful hints worth expanding into a full post, I shall take a sheet of sandpaper to your bubble (i.e. burst it). Because I follow several writers on Twitter, and because I’m a fiend for collecting quotes, I’ve discovered Twitter’s a source for oodles and gobs of great writing material. I would be remiss in my aforementioned responsibilities if I didn’t share some of that goboodled wealth with my precious inklings.
So without further ado and before I bid you adieu, here are some of my recent favorite quotes about writing and about the way we view ourselves (which determines how we approach our writing!):
Writing Takes Courage…Or Maybe Lack of Brains
“You have to be brave to take out that white sheet of paper and put on it words that could be evidence of your stupidity.”
(Via Teresa, aka @Quotes4Writers)
This might be one of the hardest thought patterns a writer struggles with: “If I write this, it’s going to sound dumb. People will read it. People will think I’m dumb. I don’t want people to think I’m dumb, so I’m not going to write this.” Circuit closed, choice made. Story idea shelved indefinitely…maybe even forever.
Mr. Saks chose to focus on stupidity as a writerly fear — but really, we could replace that word with a number of others. Taste. Preferences. Social inadequacies. Irreverence. Humor. The truth is, no matter what we write, somebody out there is going to think we shouldn’t have written it, and they’re going to use it to attack us. The trick, dear inklings, is to write it anyway. I want to add an “and bedamned to ye!” after the italics, but somebody might think I’m being irreverent.
Writing Happens Somewhere Deep
“The conscious mind is the editor, and the subconscious mind is the writer.”
–Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo)
Sometimes, there is magic. Sometimes, when you sit down to write, the dialogue and the prose just come gushing out as though you’ve sliced open your fingertips and are spilling blood all over your paper. It all flows so easily, you can hardly stop it — and it is life, and you don’t want to stop it.
How does it happen? Your subconscious has been writing, that’s how it happens. When you were loading the dishwasher, your subconscious was penning the protagonist’s diatribe. When you were tooling down the highway in your old clunker, your subconscious was detailing your antagonist’s diabolical plan. When you were reaching for the shampoo in the shower, your subconscious was doing something else for your story that starts with the prefix “dia-.” Your mind is a funny place, fellow writer. It does funny things when you’re not looking.
Let it. And keep in mind that the Conscious-Mind Editor is the chick who looks at the blood all over your keyboard, says, “Who made this mess? Somebody’s gotta clean this up!” and gets right to it. That needs to happen, too, but not until after you’ve spilled all the blood you need to spill.
No, Writing Really Does Take Courage!
“There is something you must always remember: You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
–Winnie the Pooh
Also, you need to surround yourself with people who will tell you this. Frankly, if the people around you aren’t telling you this, you need to find different people. And that goes for every human being, not just for writers or other creatives!
However, my experience has been that we creatives aren’t too good at surrounding ourselves with the right kind of encouragement. We’re often quite silly in that we seem to think we don’t need it or don’t deserve it. I don’t know which is worse. Either way — if you don’t already have those encouraging people around you, go out and find your tribe, writer. They’re out there…and they need you, too.
Writing Needs Encouragement — from Ourselves
“Looking ahead is right & wonderful, but looking back & basking in our good times & accomplishments energizes us & propels us forward, as well.”
–Julie Isaac (@WritingSpirit)
No, we shouldn’t live in the past. No, we shouldn’t rest on our proverbial laurels —
or our hardys, for that matter…
Um. Never mind. This quote kind of stands on its own. The point is that whether you’ve written 500 words or 5,000 or 50,000 or 500,000 — that’s 500, 5k, 50k, and 500k more than you had before you started. However much you’ve written, you’ve got something to work with. Writer, that is a huge accomplishment. Enjoy it to its fullest.
Then carve something beautiful out of it.
Writing = MUST
“The only reason to write a novel is because you simply must. It’s a compulsion.”
–Tara Moss (@Tara_Moss)
As far as I’m concerned, this quote stands perfectly well on its own, too. But because my university profs taught me never to let a quote stand alone, I shan’t let this quote stand alone.
I know I have to do it. You know you have to do it. We know there’s no way we can’t do it. Because we’ve tried, right? At some point, we’ve all told ourselves this was a stupid career to choose, it’s nothing more than a hobby gone terribly awry, I don’t have time for this, everybody thinks I should be Doing Other Things with my life anyway, I quit. I quit. I quit.
But we couldn’t. The stories wouldn’t let us. The characters wouldn’t let us. We got depressed and grouchy. We gained weight. We lost weight. We suffered night after night of bizarre dreams. We couldn’t focus during the day because of the frequent flashes of scenedialoguecharacterdescriptionooohIneedapensoIcanwritethisdownexceptI’mnotawriteranymore! Right?!?
You. Are. A. Writer. It’s pointless to try to be something other than what you were designed to be. It’s silly to try to shine in any way other than the one you were created for. Writer, you were made to write. So go do that.
And that’s WILAWriTWe.