James Van Pelt

Writing Words Fantastical and Otherwise

What it Feels Like to Write

cutting iceI saw this Amy Poehler quote today: “I have told people that writing this book has been like brushing away dirt from a fossil. What a load of shit. It has been like hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver.”

Writing can go many ways for me. Sometimes the words and story come more easily, particularly if I just let my standards go. I don’t mean that in a flip way. “Standards” in this case are imaginary constructs that say if I don’t write for long enough, the better words will come along. They’re false standards. Probably I’m suffering through low-level writing neurosis when the writing slows down. When the neurosis kicks in, I’m hanging out with Amy, chipping the ice.

It’s a bad writing place to be. I’m better off letting the standards go, writing steadily through the misgivings, and then evaluating what I’ve done later.

Close your eyes. Type as if no one is watching.

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1 Comment

  1. Craig O. Jones

    I never tried to force myself to write for any particular length of time. I did always do my best and most productive work under a deadline. I would sometimes go on for hours. I wrote one chapter of a novel while riding in the backseat of my dad’s car while taking a drive to see the fall colors, my laptop plugged into an inverter attached to the cigarette lighter outlet. When I had a hard time beginning again I would start by revising what I had already done, and if that didn’t work try a new project. Too many things stop the writing. I think writing in many ways is like carving a log into an animal using a chainsaw. The first part is removing what is not needed, finding the basic form underneath. Then crafting the form into something recognizable, fine tuned, and worth seeing. Too many writers are stopped before they start. Good advise Jim.

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