Recently I put up a poll on my Twitter account and asked my followers if they loved writing, or they loved having written. Most writers seem to follow in one category or the other, with a few who felt they fell into both camps.
I used to say I loved to write. As a child/teen, I wrote in every spare second I had. It wasn’t uncommon to see me carrying a notebook around or using those random blank pages at the end of books to scribble down as much as I could possibly fit of story ideas or scenes.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that it’s a little different for me. Yes, sometimes I still get hit by the writing bug. Something (usually a scene) will appear in my head and I have to grab the nearest notebook or device to write it down before I lose it. Those moments are magic, and usually some of my best work.
Many hobbies seem to come down to the same question: Do you love the process, or do you love the product? I’m a knitter, and while I used to love both, these days it’s all about the process. I love the routine, the challenge, keeping my hands busy. When the project is finished, I’m inclined to just toss it aside. I give away most of the things I make these days. The things I don’t give away tend to languish in a corner, waiting for the finishing touches so that someone can actually wear/use the item.
For writing, it seems to be the opposite. I won’t say I hate writing because that would be a lie. It’s just that I love the finished product more than the process of writing it. I write the books I want to read, and there’s nothing more exciting than reading the first draft and seeing it all come together.
The writing itself is hard. I have to force myself to sit down and put the words onto the page. I’m tempted every day to just give up. What keeps driving me is the future, knowing that when I finish there will be a book for me to read. A book that I wrote, that I enjoy because I wrote what I wanted to read.
All of you out there who love the writing process itself, I envy you. Because the vast majority of the time I’m just powering through, writing as fast as I can to get to the finished project.
There are other parts of the whole that I love. I love the planning stages. I’m not quite a plotter, not quite a pantser either. I write down a general idea of where things are going, which is mostly a list (sometimes physical, sometimes just in my head) of scenes/events that are going to happen at some point. I try to figure out my characters as much as I can. I adore research. I’ll happily pour myself into hours of figuring out details I may or may not ever need.
My brain is full of facts about places. I can tell you what it’s like in Baja, Mexico and Venice Beach California. I can tell you places you should see there and what the culture is like. I can converse about being a hearing child of deaf parents or the dirty details about what it’s really like to suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury. I love the little details.
I don’t even mind revising. I like to identify the major plot problems and then just set the novel aside. I think about these problems as I go along with my life, and one day I’m at the grocery store and it just hits me. The solution is there just waiting for me to write it in.
But when it comes down to sitting at my laptop and writing the actual novel, it’s my least favorite part. It’s what I push myself through to get to the better parts.
It doesn’t mean I hate writing because I don’t. It just means that I have to work harder than some to get into the flow and get the words out. It means I’m likely to complain and whine that I don’t wanna write today. Some of that is probably tied to my depression I know, but the rest is just who I am.
So how about you? Do you fall firmly into one camp or the other? Or are you somewhere in between? I’d love to hear your thoughts and discuss this further with you.