Claudia Osmond ~ Reader, Writer, and Ruminator

Three to One

In a peek inside my head on October 4, 2010 at 4:14 pm

What do you do when writing is really HARD?

Me? I check email, send a tweet or two, post a link on facebook, research something obscure and hope it’ll somehow find its way into a future manuscript. And then I write a blog post about how writing can be really hard.

You know, I often wonder how some writers can crank out book after book after book – entire triologies have been written in the time it’s taken me to complete one freaking book. I kid you not. (Hmmm … maybe they don’t distract as easily as I do when writing gets hard. It’s a thought.)

I’m also a slow reader. A friend of mine can read entire trilogies in the time it takes me to read the first book. Again, I kid you not.

However, I must say that she hardly remembers a thing she reads.

Me, on the other hand, I over-think things. When I’m reading, I often find myself analyzing words and sentences, reading them over and over because I like the sound or the look of them. If there’s an especially appealing word on the page, my eye will jump back to it several times before I turn that page. Sometimes I have to stop and say the word out loud. Yes, I’m a bit obsessive with the look and sound of certain words. Especially if they’re in a fabulous font. I have a childhood saturated in Dr. Seuss to thank for that.

The same kind of thing happens when I’m writing. More times than not, I find myself jumping back a few pages, reading and revising when I really “should” be pushing forward. And ironically, it’s days like today, days when I’m determined not to go back, that writing becomes hard. It’s days like today that I get the least amount of writing done. When I don’t allow myself to flow with my natural writing bent, when I don’t allow myself the pleasure of enjoying the words I’m writing and my focus is only on adding more words where I left off the day before, my word count seriously lacks growth. 

This isn’t a new revelation to me by any means. I used to think my “revisionitis” was a condition that I needed to be cured of, so I used to fight against it. (Evidently, sometimes I still do.) But I’ve recently realized it isn’t a condition that needs curing; it’s simply my process. A process that I’m still learning to accept.

And I’m coming to accept something else, too:

I write best when I read. Yes, when I read other people’s books, of course. But I mean, when I actually read and enjoy the words that are already in the document I’m working on. I’m a very visual person: I love format. I love fonts. I love the look of dialogue. I love deep black on crisp white. For me, writing is more than just getting the story out and dropping as many words as I can onto the page; although c’est tres important, aussi. But I’m slowly figuring out that my revisionitis isn’t only about rewriting. It’s also about allowing myself the pleasure of enjoying and appreciating the words that are on the page for the way they look and sound just as much as for what they mean. And amazingly, when I do that, the story progresses.

The trick is figuring out how to do that about three times faster than I currently am.

***

When does writing become hard for you? And what do you do about it?

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  1. It becomes hard for me when I feel weighted down by all the stuff I HAVEN’T figured out. I’m most happy when I’m plotting successfully, and I can see the threads tying together & making sense. This 1st draft has been the hardest thing I’ve ever written, because plotting ahead just wasn’t working, and so I’m writing and writing while I can’t see how it will come together. But every time I slow down & try to plot, it doesn’t work. SO I’m pushing through to the end, thinking/hoping that there must be some revelation coming that I need to see/find out. Yes? 🙂

    • Yes!! 🙂 Isn’t it interesting that sometimes the very thing we think we “should” do to push us forward isn’t the thing that’s going to work for us in the end? Writing is truly an organic process, often taking on a life of its own, separate from the ideas or plans we may have had for it in the beginning. (Kind of like our kids, huh? Or our gardens!) And, I think, that’s when it ends up being our best work! You’re sure to be writing a winner!

  2. I came here via Becky Levine’s posting on Facebook this morning. Thanks so much for this…boy howdy, can I relate!

    I hope you don’t mind that I used an excerpt of this on my own blog, with a link-back to this entry, of course. http://newport2newport.livejournal.com/254466.html

  3. […] to add this wonderful excerpt from Claudia Osmond’s blog. Wow, can I […]

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