Monday, December 31, 2012

My Obsession with Spectators

I was reading over at Wordplay and found a guest post by Tiana Warner about writing and madness called "Writing with a Touch of Madness". In this post she discusses Obession, Passion, and Persistence, three things absolutely necessary to writing well. However, my favorite words are in the last paragraph:

Obsession isn’t a bad thing. It compels us to finish our books, and to finish them well. It drives us to “live” our characters until they become real. Don’t feel like you’re insane if you find yourself obsessing over your book: embrace it. Every great artist seems to have this trait; it’s what drives them to success.

Part of me immediately thinks of my experience in writing with Nanowrimo, the yearly writing experience of getting 50k words down within 30 days. As well as why I rarely finish things outside of that framework. My level of obsession becomes stronger when I have someone looking over my shoulder. When it is just me up to my own devices, I will lolly-gag and let things slide. The dishes will become more important than getting 1,000 words down on any given day. The laundry will mock me from the floor until I have no choice but to get it done in order to be able to sit down with a clear head.

It isn't an absence of my characters, but simply a more 'responsible' portion of my brain exerting control. My characters are generally sitting on the sidelines counting the seconds until I get my butt back in a chair and start writing again. Leading me to another thought: I don't think of my writing as what I do. It is what I do in my free time, a filler, not important. The other things in life are important. Except when I do Nanowrimo which forces me to really stare down a deadline.

They say step one is to admit you have a problem. I suppose step two is when you confront the problem with a solution. What is my solution to the awareness I do not value my work as highly as I should? I make time for work. I make time for classes. I make time for friends. I obviously need to make time to write. Not just shoehorn it in places where I don't have something else.

A daily goal is something I have during Nanowrimo. A deadline is something I have during Nanowrimo. Each of those are things I can generate on my own. These are things I have previously generated on my own to no avail. Therefore, it must not be those which drive me forward. The thing most motivating to me in the case of Nanowrimo is the spectators. Someone is waiting to see if I make it, maybe even to sneak a peek at the manuscript once I type "THE END" on it. So how do I create the idea of spectators when I'm on my own? Suggestions?


Tiana said...

Hi Lexx,

Great insights in this post! It's great you find such motivation through Nanowrimo. I've never attempted Nanowrimo since I find it impossible to write that many words while maintaining a full-time job and hobbies on the side -- but perhaps next year I'll give it a go!

I think the key to making time for writing is to compartmentalize your life, and set goals in each compartment. You mentioned you can make time for work, classes, and friends, which are three compartments that are important to you. Add writing as the fourth, and schedule your week so that each of these gets equal attention. Tell someone about your goals and ask them to check in on you once a week. If you've failed to reach your writing goal, you'll be forced to admit it to them! Making your goals 'public' like this is a great way to give yourself a kick in the butt.

What works best for me is setting aside an hour to write each morning before work. It's not much, but it's enough to make progress. If I miss too many days, I feel guilty about it. I also tell friends about my writing goals: "I'm going to write five thousand words this week!" And when they ask me part way through the week how my writing is going, you bet I'm going to pick up any slack.

Anyway, thanks for the read and the comments!


Lexx said...


Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to respond. I think, with this coming year, I'm going to try and actually schedule PERIOD. I have so many things going in so many directions on a regular basis trying to keep to a consistent schedule is like trying to climb Everest in your pajamas.