Thursday, 15 September 2011

Whooooooooo are you?

Let me take off these sunglasses (so I can put them back on again in a minute).

One of the best parts about becoming a hardcore writer is the bit where you get to be every kind of writer all at once. You get to be a pantser, you get to be a plotter. You have days where you write by the seat of your pants, every next sentence a complete mystery until it falls from your fingertips. You have those days where you've plotted every nuance and every emotional subtlety, building your story like a home to welcome the reader if only he or she will open the door and step inside.

Becoming is about learning, and becoming a hardcore writer is about learning who you are as a writer. When you have a better grasp of how you write, you will have a better grasp of what tools help you write. For some of you, you will live and die by whether Post-it Notes have gone on sale before your next writing boom. Some of you will swear by colored pencils. Personally, you will take my brightly colored notebooks and Sarasa pens from my cold, dead, disembodied hands. Part of writing will become ritual, the hat, the gloves, the gin that makes your muse sit up and speak, and part will require ritual: turning off your internet, shutting your door, sitting quietly and clicking the pen or opening a blank document. Ordering a coffee before finding a seat. Spreading out your beach blanket before pulling a flask and netbook out of your tote. Like brushing your teeth before you go to bed or clicking your heels three times and saying the magic words, the rituals will put you in that mystical writer mindset. It doesn't mean it will always work.

Don't fall prey to the "grass is greener" mentality. I can heartily recommend following your own path because you will learn which styles work best for you. No one knows you better than you, not even your mother (hi, mom, it's true), and remember, you don't know anyone better than they know themselves. What works for you may not work for someone else. You can boggle and be jealous and be joyous and on occasion arrogant as you follow the common lifecycle of the writer which goes a little something like -

First you see another writer who is rich and famous and has a crap ton of titles under her belt.

Your friend completes nine stories in the time it takes you to complete one.

You finish a novel and sell it on the first try.

You know you are better than the award winner, even though your work wasn't nominated.

Hey, I never said the lifecycle rolled linearly. I did start a phrase with "first" but "last" can precede any of the other three statements. Maybe the phrase starting with "first" is more of an ongoing philosophy than a point on a lifecycle.

My point is, we are becoming and therefore we are learning what works for us and we are most importantly writing.

Haha, I lied. I don't even have sunglasses.

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