Once More, With Feeling

They say builders’ houses fall down around them. Plumbers look after everyone else’s drains while the family loo requires a dance for the toilet-gods and a thump of the cistern for it to flush properly. Mechanics care for customers’ cars while a half dozen chassis rust in their own backyard and two remain half fixed in the garage. That’s what they say, anyhow, if gross generalisations are to be believed. Maybe there’s something in it, given a friend accidently mucked up their own tax return while working on the help desk at the tax office. Who can say? If there is something in it, I wonder what kind of writer I am.

I’ve read about the art of writing online – writing techniques and tricks to great characters and plots. I still have a lousy understanding of grammar but I’ve read the blogs of established authors, and the blogs of pending (read: working-their-arse-off) authors. I’ve spent time examining writing. I write blog posts about how I’m not writing. I’ve learnt reading makes you write better, so I write blog posts about not reading.

The only thing I haven’t done is buy books on the subject. I’ve been tempted, but I can’t shake the irony of buying books about writing books to not write books. I tell myself sternly that only dreamers buy how-to-write books, while writers, they write. I’ve read enough already to know the best cure for not writing is writing. I don’t want to be the builder who can’t build their own house.

This thing is, when I am writing I spend more time re-reading what I’ve written. I self-edit so prematurely I always end up with drafts of drafts such that I have been known to forget which one’s the current version. My default self-edit appears to be tuned to obsessive-compulsive. They say first draft is for the writer, but which one?

This got me googling ‘writing apps’. Maybe there’s an application out there that freezes your ability to edit once the words are on the page. Or at each hundred-word milestone, the previous hundred become blackened like a censored letter so you can only move forward. Or something. Or! Or, I could simply write and not look back.

I follow writers’ blogs. None of them mention writers’ apps or how-to-write books – none of them (unless they, themselves are writing such an app or book). They don’t pin their success on anything other than reading and finding the time to write, everyday, for as long as it takes to finish.

I’m only panicking because I wrote some writerly resolutions for 2015. Am I a dreamer or a writer?

My current status? Willing writers’ will.

All I need to do now is drop that apostrophe.


4 thoughts on “Once More, With Feeling

  1. I’m in a bit of a never-ending editing loop with my own current WiP, so I’m probably not much use to you. I think your idea for a Writers’ App is brilliant – one which blocks out the text as you go, so that you can’t go back over what you’ve written until a certain amount of time has been allowed to pass. I wish that existed!

    I was talking to a published author yesterday who told me she always completes her first drafts by hand, because when you’re writing longhand you’re less put off by autocorrect drawing wiggly lines beneath your mistakes, or how something looks on the page. You have more room to experiment when you’re writing by hand. Then, she uses the act of transcribing her work from handwritten draft to on-screen draft to edit as she goes. I thought it sounded like an interesting approach.

    No matter what happens, the fact you’re thinking about this and trying to find solutions is a positive step. Well done, you. 🙂

    • I am trying to find solutions, but I also need to think less and write more. I need to push past the fear and no writers’ app or book can do *that* part for me. I’m glad you like the idea of that writers’ app, I can see the merits of writing longhand too. It removes the distraction of autocorrect but it’s also harder to chop and change as you go. I’ll definitely give that a try. 🙂

  2. P.S. Also, the only ‘How To Write’ book anyone really needs is Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. Check it out, if you haven’t already. Then, put it to good use!

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