Showing posts with label Stephen King. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stephen King. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

All Aboard! (*cue maniacal laughter and intro music*)

November is here, and even though I'm not a ticketed passenger aboard the NaNo Crazy Train, I am inspired to set challenging goals for myself.  I have Stephen King to thank, as absurd as that sounds.  His book On Writing has lit a bonfire under my writer's ass.  (Seriously, if you haven't read that book, you're missing out.  Here's the Amazon link: To The Best Writing Book on the Craft...EVAH.)

King isn't the only successful writer to advocate a daily writing schedule, and I adopted the practice over a year ago.  My problem has been considering blog post writing part of that goal.  Some days, if I'm being completely honest, the only writing I accomplish is on my blog.  That will change this month.

Starting this past Monday, I no longer consider writing on my blog part of my daily writing practice.  Per Mr. King's advice, I pledge to write between 1000 and 2000 words a day OF MY MANUSCRIPT.  In On Writing, King talks about two catagories of daily writing: "With the Door Closed" and "With the Door Open."

In November, I'll be writing with the door closed.

What he refers to by "writing with the door closed" is how (he suggests) a writer should pen the first draft.  The door to your writing space is closed; the phone is unplugged/off; the Internet is closed -- no Blogger/Twitter/FaceBook/email/  No matter what, you sit down to write and you don't stop before you've met your word count goal.

Now, some may not agree with this method.  We all work differently, and there's no right or wrong way to approach your craft.  But my goal for the month of November is to re-establish productive daily writing habits, and I'm riding my tidal wave of On Writing inspiration.  So far, I've had success.  On Monday I wrote 1467 words, and yesterday I wrote 2150.  Today, I'm shooting for 2000.

Incidentally, "writing with the door open" refers to the revision/edit phase of a MS when, according to Stephen King, it's time to show some of your work to a small group of beta readers.  I part company with King's philosophy on this point.  (He's probably right, mind you.  But I have my reasons...)  I plan to continue sharing my rough, first draft work with Jessica, my awesome critique partner.  At least for this, my first novel, I appreciate the feedback she gives me and the "deadlines" we stick to in exchanging our work.  That, too, is keeping me on track.

I still plan to write occasional blog posts, but I won't be sticking to my regular MWF schedule.  I probably won't be able to comment on your posts as often, either.  I think November is the best month to relax the blog schedule, since so many of you purchased your NaNo tickets this year.  I think we'll all be ready to meet back here in December, right?

So, happy writing to all of you.  Best of luck meeting your daily work count goals, and remember to schedule in and enjoy your downtime with family and friends.  Drink water throughout the day, especially if you're like me and slug down more than your daily recommended dose of caffeinated coffee.  And write, write, write!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

On Stephen King's On Writing

There are no coincidences in life, of this I am sure.  Timing is divine.  And that's the reason I hadn't gotten around to reading Stephen King's On Writing before now.

For the rest of you who make up the infinitesimal percentage I belonged to  of people who still haven't read On Writing, here's why you should pick it up today:

If you are a writer:  King talks about the craft like you're sitting on a sofa across the room from him, feet up on the coffee table or tucked underneath you.  He's so accessible, describing his life from his earliest memories forward and how his experiences shaped his writing.  You'll find yourself nodding as you read, validated as the writer you are, when he says things like:

"There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun.  Your job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up." -- Stephen King, On Writing (Copyright 2000 by Stephen King, published by Scribner, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. -- This Scribner trade paperback edition July 2010, page 37.)

If you're a Stephen King fan:  You don't have to be a writer to love this book.  If you devoured Stephen King classics like Carrie, The Shining, Salem's Lot, The Dead Zone, Misery, etc. etc., you will learn in On Writing what everyday experiences sparked the ideas for his stories.  This book is part memoir, a backstage pass into the creative mind of Stephen King, where he tells you where the dots fell and how he connected them.

But as I said at the beginning of this post, timing in life is often extraordinary.  I was reading On Writing yesterday when I came across a passage that spoke directly to me, its message seemingly intended for me:

"The most important [lesson King learned while writing Carrie] is that the writer's original perception of a character or characters may be as erroneous as the reader's.  Running a close second was the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it's hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea.  Sometimes you have to  go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position." -- Stephen 78.

Thank you, Mr. King.  I needed to hear that!