On one of my loops recently, someone said that one of the ways she motivated herself was to imagine that she couldn’t write at all. That her writing life was done and she just never wrote anymore. That, she said, made her fly to the keyboard to prove it wasn’t true.
And I thought, yeah, good for you! And then I thought, if it were me, that wouldn’t do it. Because writing is NOT all that important to me.
Now, before I seem nutty or like I don’t appreciate what it takes to live a writer’s life, I’m not saying that I don’t want to write.
What I’m saying is that it’s not WRITING that keeps me writing. I hate to write. I love to tell stories. If I couldn’t tell myself stories anymore, if the pictures in my head dried up and no scenes ever appeared, yeah, I’d be seriously depressed. It’s all about telling those stories to myself. Actually writing them down, well that’s a pain in the posterior. I don’t enjoy that part of writing. I enjoy the thinking and imagining and seeing.
I have always had stories in my head. I’ve even spoken the dialogue, pretending to be two characters (or three or four). When I was twenty and doing that, I thought that if anyone could see me, they’d think I was pretty crazy. Hell, even I thought it was pretty odd. I didn’t know that I should write it down, that the act of writing it would release the tension from my mind and let the story flow across the page.
I’d always written things, mostly short stories, but it never occurred to me that what I was seeing in my head were scenes from a novel. Took me until 26 to figure that out. Once I did, I had a blast. Until the real world intruded and selling what I’d written wasn’t very cut and dried after all.
The pictures didn’t dry up, but the desire to put them on paper did. I didn’t understand that I had to push through that, keep writing them down, and keep sending them out. Not writing isn’t a scary prospect to me. Not having the scenes inside my head — yeah, that terrifies me.
But I’ll keep writing, because now I know how this stuff gets done, how you keep climbing the wall, even when you slide down a few pegs, until you reach the top and get the contract. And then you have other walls to climb. 🙂 But telling myself that my writing life is over? Nah, won’t work for me. Take those scenes away, however, and I’d be lost.