Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Showing Up

This week I'll be at the Nebulas in Washington DC and consequently lose four or five days of writing productivity because I won't show up at my desk for the daily struggle with my muse.

I am firmly convinced that ninety-nine percent of success is simply showing up.  This applies to writing as well as work, life, and love.  If you don't put your tail in chair, fingers on keyboard or pen in hand, and WRITE every day.  You only get those mythical flashes of inspiration when they are watered by gallons of sweat and fed by bales of words on a regular basis.

Yes, writing is hard work as you strain to put one word after another, toil at stringing sentences together in some semblance of order, and facing this continual pressure to somehow make sense of the current piece.  On your worse days you practically rupture brain cells to produce plodding, barely literate, wooden narrative. On your best days the words flow from your fingertips like liquid gold, each phrase a gem of language and expression. You never know what will happen when you sit down, since either alternative seems to have little to do with how you feel, but if you don't sit down to write it is likely that your sudden flash of inspiration won't strike.

Years ago I started putting aside a couple of hours each evening in which to write - not email, not social networking, not rearranging deck chairs, but simply putting fingers to keyboard and producing lines of text. The exceptions were weekends, although I admit to sneaking an hour or two of writing in on occasion.  Some nights it was creating, sometimes revising and editing, sometimes simply blocking out story ideas or doing research on something needed for a story.  This last was difficult since I am very, very easily distracted.  Nevertheless, each night I would sit at the keyboard and try to write.  The result off those years of effort allowed me to sell a few stories, only two or three of which I can honestly say wrote themselves.  The rest, and especially the novellas, are the result of showing up, night after night, and slogging away at the craft.

Occasionally, I'd even have a small flash of inspiration.

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