Starting this has got me thinking about the actual processes of writing, particularly with my own work and when I’m reading, other writer’s processes. I don’t think I’ve moved away from my position in the last post about writing — that point is still valid, these are just corollaries to the point that writing takes writing.
I’ve met a few authors over the years and I have to say they all differ wildly in their approach. I love talking to Iain Banks about how he writes, because he claims he spends November and December writing, and then the rest of the year in the pub (so he claims, but I suspect it’s editing, promotion and other appearances that occupy the rest of his time) — if only I could do the same!
I am envious of his ability to put the bulk of a book together in a matter of weeks, that’s sure. Another author I met a few years ago named Stephen Donaldson gave me a good piece of advice: if you want to make a living out of it, you have to treat it like a job. He goes into his writing room at nine, takes a break for lunch, then returns and works until five or six. While this makes a head sense, I also understand it’s a repetition of my first point – writers write.
Which brings me to my last point for the day, (which could come back to haunt me someday, but I don’t think so). I don’t understand “writers block”. Fingers crossed, I never have any problem putting figurative pen to paper and filling paper or a file with words. Okay, they may not always be the best words, but I also trust myself to go back and put them in some order or to dispose of them if they don’t do the job.
I find this mental constipation — or perhaps it’s even a more basic fear of the blank page so many have a problem with — totally incomprehensible; that it stops someone who’s trade is writing from doing what they do best, and/or profess to love. I love writing as much as I love reading, and I think that’s vital. (A corollary for that is that I write things I’d like to read which, in turn, other people might like to read.)
My advice: carry a notebook and put down ideas, no matter how bizarre or unlikely they may seem. You never know, it might be the seeds of your next blockbuster.