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Redneck Joke of the Day

Since it is Monday, and most folks need something to lighten their mood straight off, I thought I’d start with this:

“You might be a redneck if:

“Your tool shed has four flats and is missing its transmission…
“You had your trailer bricked in…
“Your honeymoon in any way involved paintball guns…”


Writing output…how much?

A subject has come up several times lately that I feel is worthy of addressing, and so, I shall address it. It’s the way I am. That subject, very simply, is that of a writer’s output and productivity.

I don’t mean that I intend to go on about how many words a minute I can type, or how many books a year I can produce. How prolific one can be is a function of each separate mind and psyche. What I’m getting at is an entirely different thing, and the basis of it is productivity.

When I started writing (and I believe this is likely true of many others) I wrote a single story and fired it off. I might have also sent out a couple of poems, but then I sat back. I watched the mailbox. I told people about my story. I called people about my story. I watched the mailbox some more. It came back rejected and I sent it out again, and maybe at that point started a second story, just so I could send something more appropriate to the first market that rejected me. I was sure that my one story would go out, be accepted, come back with money attached and I could move on. I lost a lot of precious time and energy worrying over that story, and it took a long time before the number of rejections forced me to write a larger number of stories to try and make up for the mistakes I made each time I submitted to a new market. It was not a productive method, I can assure you.

When I wrote my first novel it was like my brain had traveled back in time. It was a big accomplishment for me; something I thought would take a long, long time to duplicate. I sent out my novel to agents and publishers. I talked about my novel; I called people about my novel. It came back rejected and I sent it back out, certain it would be purchased and that fame was right around the corner, but not even considering the next book. Again – not at all productive.

Years of writing have taught me a few things, and the most important of these is simply that the most important part of a writing career is the pursuit of said career. Any time spent worrying or fussing over something you already wrote is time you are not spending moving forward. By the time your book reaches your agent, or your prospective publisher, you should already be knee deep in a story, or another novel. You can’t progress as a writer without writing, and waiting on a single project, or a couple of projects, to bring you success is likely to lead to depression, confusion, and a lack of anything productive. Once something is finished, or at least finished to the point where it leaves your hands, even temporarily, put it out of your mind and move on to something new. Keep extra outlines for books - things you can start up at a moment’s notice if you find your fingers idle. The temptation to write journals (like this one) or endless e-mail, or to surf writing sites until your fingers hurt is a strong one in this day and age, but this too can be your downfall. If you convince yourself all the work you are doing is for your writing career, but none of it is really writing, you can see where that will lead.

The bottom line is that whoever long ago said “A Writer Writes,” and the other fellow who said the most important thing a writer needed to do was “to apply the seat of his pants to a chair and his fingers to a keyboard” were wise in the ways of words. You can sit back and worry over a novel long enough to cost yourself, your career, and your readers a 100,000 word novel, or you can work on that novel and be pleasantly surprised, halfway through, when your agent calls you about the first one. Or you get a couple of acceptances poking out of your rejection pile. Good stuff, but again, nothing to get distracted by.

There is no more important advice for a writer than to strive, continually, to write something better than whatever you just finished, and to keep your mind locked onto the present project, and not the one you worked on yesterday.

Now, oatmeal with a sliced banana calls…

ONWARD!

DNW

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
scanner_darkly
Apr. 17th, 2006 03:24 pm (UTC)
Any time spent worrying or fussing over something you already wrote is time you are not spending moving forward.

I should really commit this to memory.
deep_bluze
Apr. 17th, 2006 03:52 pm (UTC)
I catch myself at it
Despite full knowledge of this axiom, I still can go back to the last two or three really depressing periods in my writing career and realize this is exactly what I was doing...watching water boil when I should be getting something to put in it...

D
mariadkins
Apr. 17th, 2006 06:16 pm (UTC)
Re: I catch myself at it
Another writerly friend of mine calls this "cat waxing". Come to that, several things fall into her category of "cat waxing".
deep_bluze
Apr. 17th, 2006 06:25 pm (UTC)
Cat Waxing? (lol)
It is also like trying to teach pigs to sing...you're wasting your time, and it irritates the pig.
mariadkins
Apr. 17th, 2006 06:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Cat Waxing? (lol)
Yup. Cat waxing. LOL

It is also like trying to teach pigs to sing

That's exactly it!!
jeff2001
Apr. 17th, 2006 03:43 pm (UTC)
I first read that as:
Now, oatmeal with a sliced banana cells…

Yes, you are right. I've heard that before, but reading it again here and comparing it to my recent experience, I realized, Holy crap, I just lived that.

Really, this principle is detachment from results, a well-known principle in Eastern Philosophy. I can't remember if it's from Buddhism or Hinduism or Deepakchopraism, but it's a universal axiom.
deep_bluze
Apr. 17th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC)
I write things down like that
Mostly because I am reminding myself. I have a tendency to put a lot of weight behind something I've just completed and forget to worry over what comes next, then realize I've been DOING this for quite a while...it's important for me to have something in the here-and-now to focus on...

D
mariadkins
Apr. 17th, 2006 06:26 pm (UTC)
You can’t progress as a writer without writing, and waiting on a single project, or a couple of projects, to bring you success is likely to lead to depression, confusion, and a lack of anything productive.

I'm a beginner, but I second that. I have two novels on the burner and several other projects burning around me. I don't mind, though. It keeps my mind busy.

The temptation to write journals (like this one) or endless e-mail, or to surf writing sites until your fingers hurt is a strong one in this day and age, but this too can be your downfall.

Yes, more catwaxing. This is one of the many reasons I tend to write away from the computer - that and the fact that I don't write well at the computer.

keep your mind locked onto the present project, and not the one you worked on yesterday

Amen.

oatmeal with a sliced banana calls

Synchronicity is a beautiful thing. That's what I had yesterday. Then again, I could live on oatmeal and oatmeal alone. My husband thinks I'm crazy. LOL
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )