I totally agree with what everyone’s said this week. There are no easy answers when you write. You shouldn’t do it for the dollars, and the only way to get anything done is to put your butt in the chair and hands on the keyboard.
But I wonder if we should debunk ALL the writing myths. For a while, I really thought so. I was a total hardass. I refused to accept writer’s block. I wrote even when the writing was awful. I really tried to treat it like a day job.
The problem is, writing is not a day job, even if it’s what you do for a living. Writer’s block, I learned, is there for a reason. Sometimes you need to slow down, regroup, and pay attention to what’s going wrong and why.
For the longest time, I couldn’t get my second book to come together for love or money, and I finally figured out that it was because I’d stripped all the mystery out of the process. I’d lost the magic, and when that happens, you’re kind of like Samson without his hair.
I needed to learn to buy back into the myth of writing as an alchemical process. I started hiding when I wrote, and writing late at night, which is something I generally don’t do. I tapped back into all the mythological things I believe in: the transformative power of female relationships, the persistence of goddesses, hidden feminine histories. I had to learn to recreate secrets, keep them, and then, when the time was right, let them out.
So, for all of you scribbling ladies (and maybe gentlemen) out there, I say: Don’t kill your darlings too soon. Leave them a few scraps of mystery. They will respond well to the feeding and care. By all means, put your butt in the chair, but make sure you let your mind wander free. Bon vivant!