Writing it Out: Some Healthy Advice

Writing it Out: Some Healthy Advice

Since writing the short story, I’ve been trying to get my novel back on track. I’ve been trying to set myself small goals. 500 words here, 800 words here. It seems that only in times of transit (I’ve been to Bendigo and I’m currently back in Adelaide for a few weeks) I’ve reached over 1000 words. I’m just not feeling the writing and I had been stuck on various bits of my novel and the words are just not coming out.

I’m too hard on myself. I know that I am and it’s not something that is going to change. It’s just my nature but instead of actually forcing myself and trying to bounce around with what I should be doing, I’m riding the wave. I have to give up to the feelings that are coming my way and I need to respect them. They’ll tell me when it’s right to start again, so I’m doing a little bit here and a little bit there but I have to tell you something that I have learned from all of this. There is a bit of writing advice that I have for you, it’s something I’ve learned through watching others and trying to help them.

Writing should be organic, but it should also be forced. I like to treat my writing as a job, because it’s essentially what I want to do for a living. A lot of people seem to think that writing shouldn’t be a chore. I’ve had this debate with many of people and they think that it shouldn’t be forced but if you don’t force it, you’re not going to finish that blog post, or that short story, or even that novel. And they’re all bodies of writing that you need to finish. Stop thinking that you’ll get around to it later and that it’ll come to you if you’re patient.

It won’t.

Writing is work. It’s not light and fuzzy, and if you think it is, my advice is to you is:  get out, right now. Go be an accountant, take up a professional sport, knit a scarf but get the hell away from writing. If you can’t be bothered sitting down and writing, get out, right now. Writing is hard, it’s work and you need to get this through your head if you want to be serious, because I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. I’m not going to hold your hand if you’re half-arsing your way through it. I only want you around if you’re going to be serious.

I’ve tried to work with people who were half-arsing it; who wanted to wait for the muse to come around; who thought that forcing writing and doing things like NaNoWriMo was a burden to their creativity. They, in a word, were disillusioned. They were looking for an out and thinking that writing is easy and in actual fact will never gain anything from their writing. I had a conversation with one of my lecturers who recently got her phD and she cemented that writing is work and if you don’t know it early then you shouldn’t be writing.

Everyone makes the mistake that writing is glamorous and that it’s easy, unless people are serious about their writing, they won’t understand and the pain and the work.

I always knew that writing was work and until I started to seriously write my novel, I never understood just how much work was involved. It’s hard, it’s different, but it’s self-satisfying. To get the words onto the page and have a chance to write the story that is burning within me is such a gift. It’s what keeps running through my mind, even as I’m currently stuck with writing I’m learning to embrace it because it’s a part of my journey. Just like omitting a scene from the rewrite and then finding that you already have written it and things smooth out again. Writing is just like life, it’s up and down and full of joys and tears, you have to ride the wave or you’ll find some serious resistance and get nothing done.

Writing is organic to me because I think of it as a part of me and it’s exactly what I love to do, it may be a drag at times but sit me down with a laptop or a pen and pad and I’ll write something for you. I’ll write it because it’s all I know how to do. Writing

Do you believe writing is work? And why. Let me know in the comments.

Also if you haven’t sign up to my emailing list, first email is going out next week and while you’re at it, comment on this post to get a chance to get some free feedback from me.

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  • Peta

    Yes yes yes yes! I have been neglecting my novel since taking up blogging. Creating space to include ALL the writing in my life…this is my next adventure. Thanks for the excellent reminder. Sit down, shut up, do the work. <3

  • Alice Robinson

    My stepfather (an academic philosopher and writer) also says that talking and writing fulfil the same need in a person: they both allow you to get your story/ideas out there. Therefore, if you talk a lot about what you want to write, you will never write it…you wont need to. The desire to write just fades away. For this reason, he says, we should never talk about what we are planning to write, or what currently working on. For me, this advice absolutely holds true.

    • Peta

      Alice, your words just spoke straight to my heart! Thank you. It is so easy to talk about writing, to think about writing, to do anything that ISN’T the work. A wise man indeed.

  • writingisinsanity

    Writing is work. It should also be crazy whacky fun. I like to make it a combination of the two. I read my ideas, get a fix on them in a vague way and then I WRITE. I had to capitalise, because when I say WRITE, I mean a couple of days, knock out 50k (Ah, how I love NANO). It’s as much stream of consciousness as plotted novel, a literary vomit of ideas as they take my fancy. No rewrites, no second guessing, just write WRITE WRITE. It’s fun, exciting, craze inducing and then… then the work begins. Write a novel in a week and you have a mess, but a mess with ideas, with beautiful brilliant ideas that you may never have conceived of if you tried to plot it piece by piece. For me the work begins in that first read through when I started isolating what works and what doesn’t, then the painstaking, agonising, chore of salvaging the good parts and fleshing them into a well written complete novel. As I said, writing is work, it sucks a lot of the time, but it should also be fun. Because if its not, what’s the point? Why write if you don’t get the thrill, if it doesn’t stir you in the depths of your soul?

  • signedbysez

    Hi Mandi, thanks for a really unique and fab read. I’ve recently started my blog and have always loved writing but I definitely do feel like it’s an uphill slog ALOT of the time. I find I can get going if I just sit down and start but making that tiny step from the bed to the desk to work seems like spanning the Grand Canyon sometimes.
    I heard a great quote from Steven King the other day who was asked where he gets his inspiration from and where it strikes him. He said he’s lucky because it comes at 9am every morning as he forces himself to sit down and start. And of course he is a legend.
    Look forward to reading more 🙂

    • Mandi Kontos

      Ahh Thank you for your kind words Sez! (I took a peek at your blog and it looks great!) Stephen King is a very wise man. I love his writing (but I’ve only read a little bit of it, surprise surprise there ha!) Looking forward to seeing you around more! x

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