Friday, November 7, 2008

On Writing—A Few More Things

For some reason, God has me reading Stephen King's On Writing at the same time He has me doing Nano. There's a message there somewhere, but I have absolutely no time to look for it.

In case you're interested, yesterday was a lousy Nano day. Zero words. Chalk it up to Techno Treachery. Writing longhand may sound glamorous and more "in touch", but like King, frustration mounts when my hand doesn't produce at a speed that anywhere near matches my thoughts.

Today however, even with going to a movie and dinner with my husband, having a wonderful walk and visit with a friend, taking a shower, getting on "public clothes", putting on a face, and seeing to all of the societal things one should see to, I still managed to crank out 1,277 words.

Personally, I think it was because I didn't have to make dinner.

I was in The Zone. It was almost a shame to stop. But this scary-fear thing set in and I dunno . . . I was either going to become a lunatic and type until smoke came out of my computer, or (and this was my greatest fear) I'd write away until the flame became a sizzle, and the sizzle became a spatter, and the spatter became a pop, and then I'd be left wrung out and dry, never to write again. No more words.

But I digress. That's a topic for another post.

A thought from On Writing that has given me freedom . . . it sits right next to Anne Lamott (whom I love) telling me I could write a "Shitty First Draft" (her words, not mine—but they do create a clear picture). King talks about writing the first draft behind closed doors. In other words, it's just you and the story. No one else is peeking. In fact, he doesn't even do any research at this point. If he doesn't know squat about a particular subject, he just makes it up and waits until the second draft/rewrite to get the details right, if he actually needs them.

The first draft is produced behind closed doors (do you get that I love the closed door concept?). He writes for an audience of one. Not him, but his wife—the Ideal Reader. He imagines her reading the words he writes as he writes them. How cool is that? But he says ". . . my mental version of Tabby is rarely as prickly as my real-life wife can be; in my daydreams she usually applauds and urges me ever onward with shining eyes . . . " Still, he writes for her behind those fabulous closed doors. It's not until the first draft is done that he actually shares it with her.

I'm still nowhere near on target with Nano, but I do have a warm fuzzy feeling of accomplishment. Next month (or whenever) when I start to edit, I may decide this was a tremendous waste of time . . . but tonight? I don't think so. It feels too good.

It's all better with friends.


  1. Peg, I'm rooting for you so keep going just to get as much of your story down as you can. There really is something to be said for the Stephen King method. I'm behind schedule too, but I'm doing way better than I thought I would. I write a little every day. In fact, my method is that everytime I sit down I pick up my laptop and start writing. Last night we were all watching Numbers on TV and I was clicking away while watching TV. My daughter asked if I was writing on my book and I said Yes. She said, I thought you had to be in the zone...and I said I AM! I never knew that when a writer is sooooooooooo into their story and characters they could move in and out of 'the zone' with ease. I'm thrilled!!!

  2. Thanks, Jess. I've been keeping tabs on your progress as well, and you are doing fantastic!

    Zone on, girlfriend!

  3. Argh...I have been so lazy this weekend. I think I may have cranked out 500 words, maybe. lol... I liked how King said he doesn't even do research with the first draft. That's comforting to me b/c I was rather anxious to write my NaNo novel b/c I don't know much about ships or treasure hunting in modern times. So, I'm making stuff up! lol... Sitting at about 12,500 right now...SO far behind where I wanted to be right now.