When I first started writing, I joined a writer’s group called The Writer’s Way. It was a group that used the ideas in the book “The Artist’s Way” but tweaked them so that the ideas were adapted to writing. It was a group that fostered positive reinforcement when people share their writing. On balance, for someone who was a new writer, it was a wonderful group because it gave confidence and it helped a new writer like I was at that time away to focus one’s writing energy.
But it was limited. And after about six months of attending the group, I found that I wanted more critique. Unfortunately, though several members of that group tried to start a critique group it never took off. It would be several years before I could get back to writing, but more importantly, find a group that would show me how to critique. It wasn’t until I went to Edinburgh and found the Edinburgh Creative Writers Club that I begin to see how one could give a critique of another person’s work that was given in positive terms, but not full of unicorns and rainbows.
But I had a problem. I could not commit to writing on a daily basis. Many of the people in all of the writing groups that I have attended, lead, and formed write for hours on end. That has never been me. I am lucky if I can commit to writing at all. The ideas don’t come fast and furious for me. One of the members of my current group can sit in our three-hour session and write a full 1500 to 2000 words. Possibly even more. I’ve never asked. I am lucky if I manage to write once a week on a Thursday with the Amsterdam Group. I find that when I’m not with them, there are other things that take up my time and inclination to write. Thus I am very lucky and quite happy when I can manage to finish a chapter. I am currently writing a young adult urban fantasy, and while I’m proud to say that I am halfway through, even I don’t know where the book is going. And when I can manage to write something I am not sure if I’m repeating myself or not. It’s the lament of the discovery writer. I have no outline, and my story runs through my head like a film. Those of you who have published, who follow this blog, will probably be shaking your head and throwing up your hands.
These problems were bad enough when I was working for my family in DC managing one of our stores. Interestingly enough, since I started teaching these problems only got worse. I can’t tell you how wiped out I am at the end of a six-hour session of teaching. The last thing I want to do is look at the computer and try to create.
“But you must!” You cry. “Writing is our raison d’être.”, you say, shaking your head. I’m not sure how many people will stop following my blog as a result of this post, but I think I have gotten too old to apologize in any case. To be honest, I am lucky if I can manage a couple hundred words in the Thursday session.
The best book that I ever read on writing, at least for me, was Scott Bell’s How to make a living as a writer. It basically said that you must make your writing your production. You must commit to writing wholeheartedly and set yourself word count goals every day. I believe In this premise. But between teaching for VIPKid and trying to build a business teaching privately, there is little time for the kind of commitment but it takes to write for hours on end like my friends Ben and Mark here in Amsterdam. These two men would probably do Scott Bell proud.
As for me, I am happy enough when I can finish a chapter and write a character who was in a coma for four chapters back into the land of the living. For me, that’s a win. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have the fortitude to commit to writing like Mark and Ben do, but they inspire me to try. Maybe Nanowrimo will help. That’ll be the subject of a couple of posts in November. But in the meantime, next post we return to teaching.
That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned, as always there is more to come.