Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Blog Chain - Worth the Hassle

This round of the ol' chain was started by our awesome Eric, who wants to know:

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being a writer? What is your greatest reward from writing?

Fabulous question. There are a lot of things about being a writer that are hard. Juggling writing with kids and family and jobs, dodging queries, revisions, edits, revisions, bleeding-red critiques, more revisions, W.A.I.T.I.N.G., querying, submitting, pressure, and all that other wonderful stuff that comes with the territory.

But for me, the hardest part is actually FINISHING.

I'm great at ideas. Great at starting a project. This is why I have 4 or 5 novels with three or four chapters a piece, two finished novels in various stages of revisions (for the 100th time), two half written non-fiction proposals (one of those accompanying a half written NF book), a barely begun novel in verse, and half a dozen or so picture books.

Christine always tells me I'm spinning. LOL I just have a really hard time sitting down and focusing on one project long enough to finish it. I really don't know why this is. I'll think about my WIP all day long, have tons of ideas I want to implement, scenes shooting through my head that I can't wait to get down...but when I go to actually work on all that, I generally pull up my files and then sit and think....and then check my email....and then peek at Facebook real quick....and then get distracted by my kids or husband or that cute movie on HBO I really wanted to see. Something always comes up.

It's kind of like exercise. I really want to do it. I can visualize the incredible end result if I keep it up. I enjoy it while I'm doing it and feel spectacular when I'm done. It's just getting myself to apply butt to chair and fingers to keys that sometimes evades me.

I think this is why I work so well under a deadline :) I'm literally FORCED to work. I enjoy every second, don't get me wrong. But yeah, I do better with the cattle prod approach :)

My greatest reward? Well, I won't lie - getting a agent and selling my book were pretty awesome rewards. Seeing it on a book shelf will be even more cool, I'm sure. But really, the thing I love more than anything is sending someone something I wrote and having them say, "OMG! I LOVE this! Send me more!" or "I am loving this so much I stayed up until 1am. I couldn't put it down!" or "Hurry up and finish! I can't wait to find out what happens, you're killing me!" or "My professor gave me an A on my paper and said it was the best paper she'd read all year!"

Hands down, nothing beats that. There is nothing more rewarding for me than experiencing the pleasure other people find in reading my work or knowing that I helped someone pass their class or write an awesome paper. Absolutely nothing tops that for me.

How about you? What do you find difficult about being a writer? Anyone out there want to challenge me for the Procrastination Championship? I betcha I'd win :D What do you love about being a writer? What keeps you on this crazy roller coaster?

Don't forget to go back and see what Laura had to say about being a writer and stop by Shaun's tomorrow to see what he both loves and struggles with :)


Christine Fonseca said...

Dude! You do spin...not stew, you do that too...Stewing is good, important. Spinning...well, it's spinning! But, hey...gosh KNOWS I DO IT TOO! At least we are there for each other when it becomes toxic spinning, right??

lbdiamond said...

Great post! I must say I do the spinning thing too--though it does revolve around one project at a time. Um, I'm not sure if that makes sense, LOL! Anyway, the lure of the internet and other distractions does enough to prevent me from gettin' to, I know what you mean.

Matthew Rush said...

Writing is easy for me. Too easy even, so that I write too much. It's the revising that I struggle with. I'm actually getting better and better the more I do it, but I need to get those word counts down next time in the first draft so I won't be making so much work for myself.

Eric said...

I'd so easily beat you in a procrastination contest. Let's do it. Well, maybe tomorrow.

This is a great post, but I'm honestly surprised you have difficulty finishing. I mean, you're published for gosh sakes. So yeah, that was a surprise. But I'm right there with you on this one. Nice job.

Michelle McLean said...

ah yes, I do have a soon-to-be published book. However, remember what I said about deadlines and the cattle prod method? Yeah, non-fiction is great for that. Because you usually sell the book BEFORE it is finished LOL So, I had my agent and editor sitting there with a ticking deadline. Helps motivate me a bit :D

And my crit partners are great at getting on my back about writing the fiction stuff. It's one reason I love my crit group so much. Being under obligation to post 10 pages a week ensures that I do actually write at least 10 pages a week :D

My other publications have all been short nf essays for Chicken Soup for the Soul books. And believe it or not, I wrote each one of them in under an hour. With revisions. However, both those essays were under 1000 words and narrative nf is sort of like sitting down and talking to someone. Not as hard to do as fiction :)

Anyhow! Definitely, bring on a contest. Next week might work...I'll get back to you....

Stephanie McGee said...

I love the discovery of writing. I love finding the story, the characters, and all the ways I can derail their best laid plans.

I'm slowly coming to hate world-building. My second and third books that I wrote showed me all the little points that were lacking in my world-building. So now that I'm building another world for another book, I'm paranoid that I'm missing something huge.

Shaun Hutchinson said...

OMG! You can be my buddy with this. Between each book I've finished rot the carcasses of ten unfinished books. For me it's about finding the right idea. I'll get an idea, go with it for a few chapters and then decide the idea isn't as good as I thought, or that the voice is bad, or that I'm just not interested in the idea. I used to think it was just me being inconsistent, but I've realized it's what I need to do to decide if an idea is right for me. Because when it is, I bang out a first draft in 4-6 weeks. After Deathday I was having a heck of a time doing anything. I kept having a million and one ideas, starting some, finishing nothing. I thought my agent was going to kill me but then in a 3 month period I sat down and finished two books, one right after the other. Just like that.

So I say, spin away! Maybe it's not a bad thing. Maybe it's just how you work through whether a project is worthy of putting all your effort into.

Then again, maybe I'm just trying to justify my own wandering pen ;)

Jessica Hill said...

I'm so, so glad to know I'm not the only writer out there with the problem of finishing projects. That's by far the hardest part for me. I'm like you, I have tons of ideas and my WIPs will scream at me, but sitting down and finishing a project is so tough.

Michelle McLean said...

yay! I'm so glad I'm not alone LOL And Shaun, that is EXACTLY what I do! I love all my ideas, but somewhere around chapter 3 or 4, they starting peetering out. I thought that was just my normal "wall" that I'd need to push through, but then I found a project that I could not WAIT to get to every day. I could hit 5000 words a day, easy - and I was writing it all by hand.

Then I finished that project and had ideas for 4 or 5 more. Started a few of them. And the excitement waned. Then, opened up a file from 3 years ago, and bam, I'm back in writing mode, loving the story and getting it done.

I really felt horrible about his process. I mean, I knew other people did this too, but not to the extreme that I do it LOL It really is very nice to know that there are others out there, and that it might be okay if this is my process :)

Of course, I could just have the attention span of a gnat, but even a gnat finds something it likes to gnaw on eventually :D

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Michelle, have you ever tried going somewhere away from all the distractions of Internet and family? I wonder if that would help you stop spinning.

Cole Gibsen said...

You are so right. This may sound crazy but I can't wait until I have a deadline in place :)

Ann Best said...

Deadlines are great, whether self-imposed or coming from an editor. I find myself going in and out of my email, and checking my blog for comments. I have to force myself to turn off the computer and concentrate on what I'm writing!!

Nice to meet you, Michelle. It sounds like you have a lot of energy!

Kat Harris said...

You mean I'm not a solo spinner?

You don't know how relieved I am to discover that. :-)

Margie Gelbwasser said...

Great post! I need deadlines as well. Without them, NOTHING would get done. Even if I have to set them myself and write the dates down, it's something.

Congratulations on all the wonderful things said about your writing. That's really an accomplishment! :-)

Margie Gelbwasser said...

Great post! I need deadlines as well. Without them, NOTHING would get done. Even if I have to set them myself and write the dates down, it's something.

Congratulations on all the wonderful things said about your writing. That's really an accomplishment! :-)

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

OMG I have first chapters to books going back over a decade! In the last few years though I have gotten a lot better on focusing on one project and seeing it through to the end.

Sarah Bromley said...

Oh, yes, the idea machine. It keeps cranking them out, and I'm so easily distracted by the shiny, bright new ideas. When I was younger, I could write an entire novel in a month. Kids, husband, life, it takes so much longer to write a project to its end.

B.J. Anderson said...

Yes, I so agree with this. There is nothing better than getting good words from someone who has read your work and enjoyed it. Great post!

Amanda said...

Great post! I have to say, that although you consider it spinning... I envy your ability to throw out the ideas! I don't consider myself an idea machine and so I string a project out so I don't have to feel the stress over spouting out a new idea! ;)