Writing when you don’t feel like it
Last year I bought a copy of the Garry Disher book called Writing Fiction: an introduction to the craft. It was the required text for the fiction writing unit in my Master of Arts course.
As I read the first chapter I underlined the following: ‘…new writers… believe that the best writing grows out of powerful feelings and intense passion.’ (Disher, 2001, p.5) While this can be true I have found that it is not always the case. Sure, intensely experienced life events can be a wonderful source of writing inspiration, but if that is all we had to write about we’d never have much to say. Most of us lead such deadly dull and boring lives that we should restrained from hoisting that on our readers.
Disher goes on to say that ‘even the most mundane incident, can give rise to a story or novel, and the best writing and creative insights often come from writing calmly and with detachment… day after day. Don’t sit and wait. Start writing, and write regularly – for the practice, and to find what it is you want to say.’ This has been another benefit of doing this and other writing units in my course; the regular enforced writing exercises and the requirement to hand up finished works.
While it is writing under intense pressure at times, I believe that it is excellent discipline for the aspiring writer. To succeed, the aspiring writer must become a perspiring writer. Over the last three years I have, in part, developed the skill of writing on demand. This was in relation to my blogging. I set myself the difficult task of writing – on average – three articles of 300 – 400 words each per day. I haven’t succeeded entirely, especially last year while studying, but I came close to it before commencing the course. I have learned to very quickly come up with ideas, plan and then write rapidly. The more I’ve done the less editing and rewriting is required, so my skills are definitely developing.
Later in the chapter he says: ‘It’s pointless to wait for inspiration… Write whether you feel like it or not.’ (Disher, 2001, p. 12-13) He suggests setting definite goals with writing, say a 1000 words per day. When I was blogging solidly over recent years I had goals for each day regarding word count, number of hours of writing, number of articles written. I also had weekly, monthly and annual goals. All that discipline has helped me during my year of study and will be of great help in coming years as a writer – especially if I ever have looming publisher deadlines.
Disher, G, 2001, Writing Fiction: an introduction to the craft. Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest.