Day 470 – The Games Writers Play

I’ve always been fascinated with how other writers write. I’ve found out along the way that it is not just me – almost every writer’s first question at a reading or Q&A session is, “How do you write?” I imagine that this gets to be as annoying as that perennial question from readers, “Where do you get your ideas?” (Can’t wait to have those annoying questions myself…)

Screenwriter John August (http://johnaugust.com/2011/my-daily-writing-routine) via Tom Chandler (http://writerunderground.com/2011/12/19/how-writers-write-screenwriter-john-august-describes-his-writing-universe/) answers that question in great detail. He talks about his approach to writing at various stages (the initial blocking out of ideas to actual writing), what hardware he uses, what software, what “productivity tools”, etc. Enough information to easily OD his fellow writer junkies.

When you think about it, it is curious that we are so fascinated by the process. On the surface, it seems like writers, the neurotic bundle of self-doubt that we are, want to make sure they are doing it “right”. They want to know the secret to being successful, the path to the Fountain of Published. And that is probably part of it.

But I think what writers are really asking is, “How do I stop myself from doing it wrong?” A subtle, but important difference.

They say that half the struggle for writers is simply sitting down in front of the keyboard. There are so many distractions – the Internet, that cliché load of laundry, Sports Centre or The View depending on your proclivities, emails, phone calls, lunch… What writers really want is the secret not just to publishing, but how to trick their hands into moving that pen across the paper. How to trick their minds into becoming word-spewing machines, churning out page after page like some creative Xerox machine that just keeps ka-chunging and ka-chunging. It doesn’t even have to be “Gold, Jerry!” – just work that they can edit and fix later.

Pure, honest work.

In short, we want to know how to win the games writers play to get themselves motivated and working. “This bit of software will help me get things done more efficiently!” or “I should really go out and buy that fine-point red Sharpie – that’s what the professionals use to edit!” or “So-and-so writes five pages per day, rain or shine, flu or fine! So I’m going to too…”

Eventually though, you find that Yoda-like bit of truth: “Write, or do not write. There is no try.”

***

Speaking of which, been stealing my own few bits of writing time lately. Still not as much as I would like – my Christmas deadline is officially out the window, barring some miraculous fold in the time-space continuum – but I’m happy with the work I am doing.

~Graham

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