Are you being a sook? Are you agonising over writing something when you should just be putting the words down?
The other night, I was asked to be “captain” at the Queensland Writers Centre‘s first real-life writing race. We all sat around with our laptops and wrote to a timer. Between us, this group of about 20 people wrote nearly 50 000 words over 90 minutes. I had a captain hat, as you can see, but only later did I realise that I didn’t take my duties as a quasi-military leader nearly seriously enough. We’re all terribly gentle with artists but, in the spirit of NaNoWriMo (where you try to write 50 000 words in the month of November) here are some words to pin up near your computer for when the writing is just too hard.
Cowboy the f*** up.
What, you think you’re curing cancer? You think people are going to die if the metaphor isn’t just perfect? You know what? If you don’t write your book, nobody will ever know. Nobody will ever miss it. But if you do write it, many many cool things could happen. Your family, friends, and crit group will read it: and they might love it. Or they might suggest a billion things to make it better. And it would grow and be better and come close to the original potential you imagined for it. Hey, it might even get published one day. As a rule, though, publishing houses aren’t putting out books full of blank pages. Any schmuck can come up with one of those.
So it’s hard to get to the time to write? I see: so from the moment you wake in the morning until the moment you go to bed at night, there’s not a single ten-minute block in which to get out your notebook and have a think about where your story’s going? You must live in a freakin’ gulag. Or when you say you don’t have time, do you actually mean “I don’t feel like it” (please imagine whiny voice). I’m so damned pleased that you don’t feel like it! God knows it’s a crowded market, and if you never write that novel then I don’t ever have to compete with you. Sweet as. Don’t write; I’ll celebrate.
Look, if you don’t want to do the work, then stop whining about it and go do something else. Or are you still battling those teenagey feelings that you were formed for greatness? Well, you know what, greatness is not inherent. It’s in actions. It’s in doing the freakin’ work.
So do the freakin’ work. And don’t come crying to me.
The QWC is a wonderful resource. They run virtual writing races via the Australian Writers Marketplace online every Tuesday (and I’m often there). Well worth joining the organisation and paying a little extra for the AWM subscription. Hope to see you at the races one night. No more QQ.