Every once in a while, I get caught up in all the CLUTTER of writing. I check my numbers–how many followers do I have on twitter? for my webpage and blog? On my author Facebook page? What are my books’ rankings? Did I post something for 2bitTues and 1lineWed? Did anyone retweet it? And don’t get me wrong. Those things do matter. An author has to let readers know her book’s out there, available, or it can get lost in the shuffle. But the bottom line is, every author has to write the next book, and the next book has to be as good or better than the last one. And the only way to do that…is to WRITE.
I’m a firm believer in butt in chair. People sometimes ask me, “Where do you get your inspiration?” And the truth is, more mornings than not, I don’t have any. I grab my coffee, plant my fanny in my chair, and read whatever I was working on the day before. Also, more often than not, what seemed brilliant to me on Tuesday sounds like crap on Wednesday. That’s why I spend every morning doing rewrites. That, and the fact that working on the previous day’s scribbles gets me back into the story, and hopefully, the words for the next scene will start flowing. That usually works. Not always. There are days when I fight with one paragraph, run dry, and then go for a cup of coffee. I write another paragraph or two, and go for another cup. There are days that, by rights, I should float out of the house with all the fluids I’ve consumed. Those are the days when the words come to me in fits and the flow never happens. But I’m convinced those types of scenes are just plain tough, and they’d never come easily, no matter how much a Muse sprinkled me with magic dust.
Some scenes just plain suck to write. When a character’s reached a turning point or I’m trying to SHOW instead of TELL, but the whole thing hinges on subtleties . . . those are my high intake coffee days. If I take time off, or let the scene “stew” for a few days, sometimes it helps. Sometimes, it doesn’t. But I’ve come to believe that if I make myself write everyday, my brain knows there’s no wiggle room. It has to deliver. It’s sort of like working out. If you take time off, it’s harder to get back in gear. Part of writing, for me, is just plain habit.
The more you do something, the better you get at it–if you want to improve. I suppose a writer could just regurgitate the same thing, day after day, but even then, it will become easier to produce the pages you need, whether they challenge you or not.
When new writers ask me, “What’s the most important thing I should do?”–I answer, “Just write.” There’s plenty of advice out there that will help you learn faster, but that’s like reading a book or watching videos to teach you tennis. The pointers will help you, but to get good at anything, you have to DO it. Over and over again. A lot of new writers are looking for a magic bullet, something that will make them great writers overnight. Good luck with that. I don’t think it exists. So the most important thing, I think, is butt in chair. The more you write, the better you’ll get. Just Do It.