I decided to write about writing today, which to me is a lot like thinking about thinking. You get so distracted deconstructing the mechanics of what you’re doing, you find you’re not really doing anything at all.
Which is not to say that writers can’t benefit from a class, a workshop or just a good discussion about writing. There is however, the temptation to use classes, workshops and discussions as a means to be a writer without actually writing. (Writing is hard work, dammit! Let’s just talk about it for a while)
I know something about writing. I studied journalism in college where I had to learn grammar and style backwards and forwards. It helps to learn the rules before you break them. I also have written two books Caviar Dreams, and Tree Huggers, due out in 2006. I’m hardly an expert, but as you all know, that’s never stopped me from giving my opinion before.
I don’t like the idea of reducing writing to a set of seven handy steps, like Dr. Phil and his “Seven Steps For A Phenomenal Family.” Nothing is that simple. Also, it’s my feeling that if I concentrate on writing the “Right” way, I won’t be writing my way. If I’m going to spend my time doing writing exercises that no one’s going to read, I might as well work on my third book (five chapters and counting!)
I did a Google search on writing sites and got 198,000,000 hits. They have titles like “Rules of Writing,” “Writing Secrets,” “Writing.Com.” They offer ways to make money as a freelancer and how to get your great American novel published. There are online classes in writing, online writing discussion groups, online peer reviews and a huge number of bloggers blogging on writing. You could spend your whole life learning and discussing your writing, that is if you manage to find time to get it done.
By the way, I belong to a web forum of mystery writers. The web board has helped me a lot through the years, even though most of my postings are in the “Chat” Section as opposed to writing advice. Check them out at Mystery Writer's Forum.
But if you’re looking for advice, I will offer this quote from author E.L. Doctorow.
"Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you're doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing. . . . Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
Keep writing and eventually you get a book.