Thursday, 23 August 2007

Friday Morning Sugar Hit!

I'm whispering 'Good Morning' to you all as I'm slow to wake up and don't like too much noise first thing. I thought I would kick off this week's coffee break with providing some sugar laden cupcakes to accompany your tipple of choice. I'm plumping for a latte this morning and I'm eyeing off the blue cupcake just because I don't think I've ever eaten blue cake! So help yourself and I hope you see one you like the look of! Once you've chosen your cake, poured your brew and put your feet up, you'll have to drag yourself away from the plate and read on below.

I've had an interesting writing week. I thought I was ready to submit to agents but have realised as I've been editing my novel, that I'm not. Instead of feeling disappointed though I feel rather liberated. I'm not ready to send my novel out into the world just yet and it's not ready to go. I'm also really enjoying the editing process. Something has changed about my writing process as I've been working on my first novel and I'll explain as best I can what it is to see if my experience resonates with anyone else.

I can't remember a time when I didn't write, but I can remember lots of times when I didn't really want to write but felt compelled to. This made for a very uncomfortable and not particularly enjoyable time tethered to my chair. I would schedule a writing session and then clock watch and waste time with displacement activities until my allocated session was over.

I felt like a fraud when I would answer 'yes I've been writing today,' to anyone who asked. I couldn't work out why I felt the need to write but actually couldn't commit to writing in any meaningful way. I concluded that this was my process and I could learn to live with it, but I couldn't change it. This didn't fill me with any joy so I decided to give up writing for a while. Eventually it tugged me back.

This is where the big change happened for me. I got an idea for my novel 'Support Act' and started writing it. Before I realised it, I was writing without clock watching. And now the only clock watching I do is when I have to leave my desk and reluctantly go off to do something else - usually paid work!!!! I had never thought about writing a novel before and had spend many years struggling with my process as a playwright.

So my question is ( and yes I do have one, a couple even - I did say I was slow in the mornings!!!!)

Do you think that sometimes we are writing the wrong material or in the wrong genre or form and this affects our process? Do you always get into 'flow' ( the state where time passes, you forget to stop for lunch, forget where you are and keep writing fervently even though you may not be getting paid for it!) everytime you write or is it sometimes a struggle? How do you get into your 'flow' state?

Have a great writing week everyone!!! Feel free to take an extra cake for later!

15 comments:

KeVin K. said...

Okay, still Thursday night my time, just winding down for the evening. Gotta pass on the cakes. Trying to get back down below 200 pounds and just one of those things would require an extra 27 miles of walking.

Writing? Not much in terms of words on paper. I've been asked to write some web content for an interactive site connected to a movie. Not allowed to be specific, but in a month or so I might direct y'all to an interesting site for no particular reason.

Started a new day job on Wednesday. Same sort of work -- case management for community services -- but a different agency with different ways of doing things, so I've been spending a lot of time learning procedures and such.

All of which means my original novel is delayed yet again. Still holding firm to my November 5 deadline -- but it's going to be a bit harder to hit than I'd planned on.

liz fenwick said...

Kevin you schedule kills me!

Those cupcakes are soooooo tempting I might just have to have the sun flower with a strong black coffee just for balance :-)

You have posed some interesting questions. Back in 2004 when I said I was going to write and I sat and wrote a MIlls and Boon, I wrote and wrote until I finsihed. I wrote what I thought I was supposed to write or so I thought. I can't stand to look at that script now. Although I had done my research, it wasn't where I was meant to be. The writing was definately harder.

Now that I am writing what my heart wants to write - it is mostly a joy and I hope and pray the writing is a hell of a lot better :-)

Even though I love what I am writing now (or not as it's still summer hols) I still find there aere days when it doesn't come but that usually means I haven't fed my sibconcious enough and need time........

Finally, I sent August Rock out into the world way too soon so you might be right about not sending to agents yet. Now with hind sight I wish I had waitied until now (six rewrites) before I had pushed AG into the world but you live and learn. Keep enjoyinbg the editing process :-)

Thanks for the coffee and cup cakes!

Fionamac said...

From what I've read, even the most prolific of writers, find it hard to put words down every day. The state of 'flow' just happens - for me any way - at any old time.
I can be writing a chapter which I've thought would be great...and it turns out to be slow and difficult or I can get the lap top out at the worse possible time - 3pm - with no ideas and get into 'flow'. Most days its just a slog though.
Thanks for the coffee and fab cakes. Damn. Liz picked the flower one I had my eye on.

Helen said...

Sometimes there are days when I just don't want to start writing and will think of plently of distractions. Once I make myself start sometimes the words just flow and others I have to prise them out. Whether it is easy going or hard I always stop around 1000 - 1500 words. I just find I cannot do any more - that I'm emotionally zapped.

Still not started editing but have printed out the first half of it. And what a dilly. I've just noticed I haven't put page numbers on. Better not drop it.

JJ said...

Hi everyone

Yummy cakes, thank you.

Mmm, interesting question. Writing fiction is all proving a struggle for me. I don't know if I'm writing for the wrong genre (I think it's what I want to be writing) or whether it's because I don't yet know what my process is. I feel like I'm doing an awful lot of reinventing the wheel, but there aren't any short cuts because I've never done it before.

I'm trying to plod through. The word count has increased a little bit but I'm currently going back to plotting a little more, *sigh*.

If I'm honest, I've only ever known that flowing state with non-fiction. I could allow myself to worry enormously about this, but I'm trying not to. I assume (hope) that doesn't mean anything too sinister (like I'm not a fiction writer!)

ChrisH said...

Ooh! Would love either of the ones with hundreds and thousands on, please - have a terrible weakness for 'snowies' those white choc drops covered in diddy hundreds& thousands. Oh, dear have I got to talk about writing? Yes, I think you're right - for me flow is achieved when I'm living what I'm writing and deeply immersed in my world and characters. But I'm finding rewriting a total pig - can't seem to achieve that sense of immersion at all and, at the moment, my m/s is going down by hundreds and thousands not up!

ChrisH said...

Ps, my sidebar needs updating so apologies to anyone who is missing or shouldn't be there - I have a houseful at the moment but plan a quiet time next week when I'll do a bit of housekeeping (ooh, doesn't that make me sound like a domestic goddess?).

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Wow, yum, cupcakes, bagsy the little orange one, thank you Isabella! It'll go perfectly with my chamomile tea (well I think so anyway).

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given - by Geoff Dyer - was 'write what you want to write, don't worry about the form or genre, you can sort that out later'. It really freed me up. I don't always get into 'flow', it comes when it comes, but I can always write; sometimes it's a chore, sometimes it's OK, sometimes it's joyous, and sometimes I need to get away from the keyboard and mull. Like Helen I can rarely do more than around 1000 words of new writing per day, and like Liz I need lots of time doing other things inbetween writing for my subconscious to work on it.

I'm getting near the end of my third draft, and I know it will need at least one more round of month off/feedback/redraft before it's ready to send to agents. I'm hoping four drafts will be enough, but if it isn't, then I'll do five. Or six. Or... I want it to be as good as it can be, and I know from friends who are published writers that if I realise my dream, one of the downsides will be that I will probably never again have the luxury of this much time to get a book right, so I'm making the most of it.

Rowan Coleman said...

Hello people, I want the sunflower cake it looks great, but as it's gone frankly any cake will do. I'm not a cake snob. Good question and good comments so far. Because at the moment I am luckc enough to write as a full time job (something I pray will continue) I write every single week day from nine until five. And I keep writing even if nothing I'm writing feels any good because after a few days if I go back with fresh eyes it oftne turn out ot be better than I thought. The trick is, I think, to know the difference betwen knowing what will come right and letting go of what won't. Once I wrote almost half of a novel when I decided that I couldn't make it work. It was really, really hard to put that book, six months of work, in the shredder and start from scratch, but it was liberating too, beucase I knew I was doing the right thing and it was better to start afresh than tie myslef up in knots trying to fix the unfixable. HOWEVER quite often when writing feels painful and hard and you'd rather be pairing socks than doing it, you still can be writing really good stuff. It's just difficult to see it. A bit like standing right in front of a Monet, it's all mess and confusion. It's only when you stand back that you can see it is beautiful. Some books are a joy to write, and a breeze and some books are like trying to sculpt a piece of granite, challenging and painful. But either process can produce writing that you can be proud of and I often think that part of the mystery and fun of writing is wondering which path your book will take you down as you write that first line. Dear me I do go on. Back to work now!

CTaylor said...

Wow - what unusual cakes. I fancy the one that looks like neopolitan icecream! Not sure about the blue one - it looks like a sea creature!

How do I get into the flow? It really depends on what I'm writing. Sometimes I'll get an idea for a short story and I just HAVE to write it. At times like that when I've got the character firmly fixed in my head and the voice is right the character's story just flows right out of me. All the stories (bar one) that have won short story competitions came out in one go and were almost easy to write.

Unfortunately that's not always the case. Sometimes I labour over stories and the words just won't come out. As often as not the story that finally does come out is clunky and doesn't work.

When I was writing my novel I had periods where the words flowed and other periods when I had to dig around my skull with a stick and smear the mess on the page! (that's fun to edit..not). Normally it was the scenes I was most enthused about that came out easily and the scenes I thought were boring or was unsure about that ended up as smeary messes.

I think I'll always have a mixture of word flow days and word smear days but what I'd give to have the words always flow!

B.E. Sanderson said...

Too early for cake here, so I'll just have some coffee. They do look scrumptious though.

The flow for me isn't something I can control. Most days I sit down to write it goes pretty well, but some days it's like pulling teeth. I usually can get at least 500 words out in a sitting, and a good day is 1500. My best day was around 4000 words, but that was before I began homeschooling and I had the whole day to myself to write. I don't know about writing in the wrong genres. I just write whatever story is in my head, and I go with it until I'm finished. Half the time I'm not even sure what genre it is until I'm finished. (And even then... I'm bad at defining my genres.)

Thanks again for the coffee. Have a wonderful writing week everyone. =oD

sheepish said...

Hi everyone I'm back from my little holiday but haven't had time to look in on anyone yet, that will be next week. Don't think I'd better have a cake after over indulging for two weeks!!!!!!

My writing is definitely in fits and starts, although I am going to try and be more methodical about sitting down each day and getting something on paper. I have problems with being easily distracted.

Sorry where was I? Hmmmm see what I mean!! Seriously though I am distacted at the moment by trying to sell our farm, we had a viewing today and another one tomorrow so I have to keep doing the housework. I tell myself that once the farm is sold I will be able to concentrate on my writing, but I'm not sure I believe myself!!!

Have a great weekend and catch up with you all soon.

Jen said...

What fabulous buns!!!! (Am allowed to be smutty cos I'm on a diet.)

As for flow, well, like everyone else, it varies. Sometimes it's fab and I have to let the children eat Dairylea Lunchables from the petrol station as I can't bear to drag myself away. Other times, it's torture - I either can't think of a single thing to write or, more annoyingly, I know exactly what I want to write but can't shake the words out.

Am having an enforced break today as my brain has broken down but boys away next week so will make headway then.

As for genre & form - I'm always swapping and changing deliberately from 1st person to 3rd and from present tense to past - I can't decide which works best so am writing chunks in each and will decide when I edit.

Yaaaawn... don't even mention the 'C' word (caffeine)

Leatherdykeuk said...

Right, I'm on a break from project one and dropped in before I start project 2.

I push myself to write every day. Writing has become an ingrained habit so I try to write 2K on novel one and 500 words on novel 2 (which currently only has the vaguest of plots).

The worst time for writing is when I've just finished a novel. It takes me a good few weeks of writing drabbles and flashes and short stories to find the germ of the next novel there (though saying that I've got two novel ideas percolating for when I finish the current WIP next month.

I'd rather get words down now and cut them out later than not write at all because I'll cut them out later. Every piece of writing generates ideas and subplots that can become vastly important.

No cake for me, thanks; I sweat to much as it is.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Tempting as they are, will have to pass on the cakes (having consumed doughnuts and cake earlier).

I also write every day, whether it's the novel or not. Sometimes I need to give the forebrain a rest from one thing and let the subconscious work on it while I get on with something else.

One thing I have learned over the years if something isn't flowing is not to worry about it. It will get sorted or it won't. If it does, I'm happy; if it doesn't, I have plenty of other projects to move on to.

I set myself an absolute minimum of 300 words a day. It is an easy target to achieve, even on the days I need a crowbar to prise words out of my head.

As for genre... I always feel it should be subordinate and relevant to the story you have to tell. When I wanted to discuss alienation in modern society and throw in my halfpenny worth of political comment, I wrote some spy novels as that seemed the best vehicle. But I have written sci-fi, fantasy, 'literary' fiction, slipstream. If it was the best vehicle for the story I would write a western, a hospital romance... except of course, I wouldn't think of them as genre works until I was trying to pitch them to an agent or publisher.