Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Hobbyist Writer

I read an article earlier this week about why writers procrastinate. Ralene Burke over at NAF posted about unexpected writer's block. Check out the comments, especially the one about Pixar. I'll give you a minute.

*Sherlock theme song plays*

Back? Good.

My living doesn't depend on my writing. If I don't sell a book, I still eat tonight. I have a day job. The last three years have proven to me I'm not a natural born writer (I took a test about that, too, but I don't care enough to go find it on FB). I think up stories. Sometimes I write them down. Sometimes people publish them. Sometimes other people read them. It's all good.

That article about things coming too easy is spot on. Most of my life has been spent easily doing what I'm good at and avoiding what I'm bad at. Only in the last year have I really begun tackling things that don't come naturally and finding some measure of success. It's an odd feeling. I want to be resentful about the need but I'm rather pleased with the results.

The Pixar strategy is one for people whose lives depend on their work. Pixar must create movies (good ones, hopefully, but high-grossing is acceptable), so Pixar must force ideas when no ideas present themselves.

The elitist in me balks at the thought of writing a story that didn't materialize from thin air fully-formed and insistent to be written, but that's what working writers do, and they do it quite well. I love most Pixar movies. I don't feel like they were rushed or written to formula. That system works, and my elitist snobbery should sit down and shut up. It hasn't produced anything lately.

These last few years have been a lesson in doing what doesn't come naturally. Sometimes I learn I really do hate it, and I'll stop, but that's not nearly as often as I expect. Most of the time, it's just a question of learning the steps and practicing them until mastery is achieved. I can do that.

So on days when writing doesn't come easily, I should push at it. Struggle with it. Try something that might not work and abandon it without guilt or annoyance if I'm wrong. That's what normal people do, and it seems to work.

Happy Tuesday, dear readers. Try something new today, and then try it again, just to be sure.

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