Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm Getting Close! (And a Writing Tip)

Almost done with my latest book. I love this feeling.

I'm at 60,000 words and probably have ten thousand more to go. I have a writer's tip tonight:

We all get to the point where we're not super excited about writing the coming chapter. It might be one of those chapters that are necessary but not as exciting as the ones before or the ones that will come after. If I were a good writer, my advice would be to find a way to make that chapter interesting, but since I'm not, here's what I do instead:

  • I think about just skipping it and going to the next chapter.
  • Then I tell myself that I'm avoiding the issue and ultimately doing nothing but delaying the inevitable and besides, it's just easier to write it in order.
  • So I write the chapter, but here's the tip:
I write the thing as quickly and as crappily as I can. Well, I don't intentionally write it crappily, but I tell myself not to care if it is crappy. I tell myself the same thing I told myself during every finals week at Michigan State University: Doing well is not as important as getting it over with. And while that probably wasn't the most effective self-talk in college, it works just fine in writing, because if it is in fact crappy I can go back and make it better later. But usually, I find it's not 100 percent crappy; there's usually a few lines or at least ideas that get to hang around. It's like 95% crappy most of the time and since just about the whole first draft is 95% crappy, there's really no reason not to just spew the words out.

So that's my advice: Crappy writing is better than no writing.


Hey, I finally bought an ipod. I bought it because I always felt guilty about disappearing when I wrote. I would leave The Wife and The Wife likes hanging out with me even if I'm not really conversing or listening to her and am totally in my zoned out writing mode. But she likes to be in the same room regardless. I can't blame her. I like hanging out with me, too. Anyway, I bought the ipod because I'm sitting there in the same room as The Wife and she tends to watch really bad TV while I'm trying to write. Tonight she had Joy Behar's pathetic excuse for a talk show on. So I put the headphones on (my ear holes are too tiny for the ear buds that Apple provides--maybe that's why I never hear what The Wife says. Ha.) and I can write without being interrupted by Nancy Grace or Joy Behar or one of the Kardashians while still being in the same room as The Wife. That's problem solving, folks. So I've got the thing going right now and Dolly Parton's Here You Come Again is playing. Why do I have Dolly Parton on my ipod, you ask?

When what you should be asking is why you don't.

Also, I have a pimple on my nose. Because apparently, my nose didn't get the memo that I'm no longer 15. Due to the pimple and the blogger's unrelenting vanity, there will be no v-logs anytime soon.


Unknown said...

The Kardashians... can't stand em. Finishing a book is an awesome feeling, you're so close, just write the darn thing.

Elliot Grace said...

...congrats on nearing the finish line, Murph:)

If you think writing those doldrum chapters is a burden, wait till you have to revise the thing...and believe me, your editor will sniff out the lack of enthusiasm and demand bigger/better/faster, and with a frown turned upside down. Leading to more days of "crappily" fun.

The Wife said...

I'll admit to watching Nancy Grace. But Joy Behar was only on because I was facebooking and didn't bother to change the channel when Nancy ended. Just sayin. Note to self: try using the ipod when Dear Blogger is watching endless hours of sports no one cares about. Like men's adult slow pitch softball. (Not an exaggeration.) And as for Dolly: you're welcome.

Jonathon Arntson said...

I never pegged you for an inspirer, Paul.

Tina Laurel Lee said...

Good work! And thanks for the Dolly. Should I thank The Wife?

Jenny Maloney said...

Viva la crappy writing (which will probably not be so crappy when you go back to look at's always the pieces that were 'BRILLIANT!' that I find questionable later).


Anita said...

I just can't watch TV anymore. I have some MI-5 on video and that's all I watch. I'm getting very boring in my old age.

Congrats on getting close. I'm sure it's not c-r-a-p.

Ray Veen said...

Crappy words ARE better than no words. Wholeheartedly agree. It does tend to make revision time more miserable, though.