The Art Part
I’m not a philosopher, so I’m not going to attempt some deep and thoughtful analysis about the written word. What I do know is that finding your routine–whether it’s daily word count or a certain time of day spent writing–helps. I have a word-count that I meet before I do anything else but go to the gym and brush my teeth five days a week. One day on the week-end I write a little something, but it doesn’t have to be the story I’m working on, it just has to be something. I’m a firm believer that what works for some may not work for others.We’re all so different it would be bizarre and unnerving if there were only one right way to do anything. I’m also a big fan of trying things out, seeing what does or doesn’t feel right, and making adjustments. As my Mom (and avid mystery reader) always told me when I had a big decision to make “If it starts not working, you can always do something else.” I try to not pre-judge an idea until I give it a chance. Last summer I went to a panel at ThrillerFest with the DIY MFA Guru Gabriela Pereira. She said she kept a jar on her desk to write down anything that got in the way when she was writing. She would write down the annoying thought on a little piece of paper, fold it up and put it in the jar. Okay, I was skeptical, but the next day when I was working on my on word count and one of those nagging thoughts that had absolutely nothing to do with my story kept circling my head, I decided to give it a try. It worked . . . for me. The act of writing down my distraction, foldingit into a tiny square and setting it in a glass jar allowed me to get back to the work I wanted to be doing. (Yes, I have identical jars: one here in the city and another up in the attic room in the country. No, I’m never going to tell anybody what I write on those little pieces of paper!) I guess the point is: do whatever it is you need to that allows you to access the story. Maybe it’s a certain cup of coffee, music, time of day. You might need to light a candle or find a particularly quiet room. Whatever your thing is, do it so that when you hit your word count/page count/minute or hour goal, you look back and find at least something (even if it’s only one word) that makes your heart beat just a little faster. Do that. And then do it again.