Writing One Word at a Time

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

All artists are unique individuals who approach their work in a way that works for them.  There is no right, no wrong, no perfect how-to to follow.  From personal experience both as a writer and book reviewer who also does author interviews, I can say with confidence that the paths to creating new works is as varied as the artists themselves. 

Over the years
I have tried several different ways to get myself writing. After 15 years, I can honestly say shorter articles and blogs come easiest for me.  It is joyful to sit down, pound out a new piece and edit it in a few hours.  Sending it off , or hitting publish, brings a sense of exhilaration - I have accomplished something. I am successful today.  I pat myself on the back (or whatever I can reach to pat) and walk away from the computer feeling content.

The same doesn't hold true for me with writing new books.  I struggle there. While the act of writing is the same - a few hours typing on my computer every day - the focus has to be somewhere in the distance. You can't complete a book in a day, at least not the kind of work I want to have my name on. While a good feeling arises at reaching a daily goal, such as a word count. The major gratification of finishing a job doesn't happen for a long time.  I have to admit, my ADD doesn't like delaying the rewards. 

I've talked in previous articles about how creating a daily habit of showing up and writing has taken the pressure off. While I don't have a new book ready, I have created an incredible volume of work this year that has the potential to grow into a new book. I've explored poetry and am taking online writing classes that push me.  But at the end of the day, I still find myself a long way from releasing my next book.

This last week I finished reading On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. In it he wraps his memoir around how writing came to work for him.  Several times during the book I had to pause and think about what he said as, although they might have been ideas I already knew, I had misplaced them.  He writes fiction, but his writing is very led by the characters he creates. He starts with a "what-if" and then follows the characters through the story, often not knowing the end until he writes it.

I love this.  It is also something I can bring to the table when sharing the stories of others. I don't need to TRY and tell their stories in a way that is interesting, I need to relax and let my real characters tell the story as I type. I need to channel their voices in a way that brings authenticity to the page, an authenticity that will echo in the hearts of the readers. 

One other story
he told that made me pause involved an interview.  After the standard question on how he wrote, his answer was simply a cheeky one word at a time. This is a truth I had let lapse. I was feeling the pressure to publish, to create new work, and yet feeling empty and uninspired.  Why? Because I had become focused on the wrong thing. I needed to step back, pick a direction and do just what King said - write one word at a time, letting my characters lead the way. 

As I move back into a deep focus on my writing in November, I hope to bring these two truths to mind before I begin writing each day.  Let my inner muse guide me, let the words flow through me. It's okay if they are a chaotic mess or if there are days it feels like I am throwing shit at the wall.  All I need to do is continue to show up and write - taking it one word at a time.