Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pushing Through

Do you ever get tired of writing?

Yes, I've been asked that, and it's actually a very thoughtful question. Most people think writers write because they can't not write. That's what we writers like to say. It's part of who we are, what makes us tick. It's our passion, our glory, our holy calling. We can't imagine not pouring our souls out onto paper. We can't accept a life without creating, without storytelling. We write because it's what we know, what we feel, what makes us complete.

Okay, some of that's true, yes, the rest, honestly, is a bit dramatic.

Writing is an art and like any art it comes from somewhere deep inside the artist--from the soul or heart or maybe just the right side of the brain. It's what we are, not just what we do. But that being said, it is work as well and like any work it can get tiresome. When the juices are moving and words are flowing, there's nothing I'd rather be doing than writing. But when things jam up and the gears grind to a clunky halt, man, it's tough to get motivated.

True confession time: Sometimes I loathe writing. Sometimes I hit the alarm at 4:40 a.m. and all I want to do is roll over and go back to sleep. I don't want to think about writing, don't want to wrestle with the story, don't want to look at the computer monitor. In fact, at those times I'd be perfectly happy if I never wrote another word in my life.

But I push through. I sit my butt in the chair and turn the computer on. I force myself to write, to form sentences, to create characters and settings and conflict. Like one of those old hand-crank engines, I manually get those gears turning.

And you know what? Once I get going it happens. The right side of my noodle wakes up and starts doing what it does best. The characters find life again.

And that's where life and writing intersect, isn't it? Sometimes we don't feel like going to work, we don't feel like staying married to our spouse or spending time with our kids or talking to the neighbor. Our will rebels against what our soul demands. But if we persevere, if we force those gears to move and connect and push us forward, then eventually we find our inspiration again and the spark ignites a flame which burns into an inferno.

And we are alive again.

So how about you? Have you ever felt like giving up on something only to push through and find new inspiration, new motivation, new life?


DRC said...

I couldn't imagine life without writing. As you say, it's who are. Have I contemplated quitting? Oh, yes, when the going gets tough. I ask myself why I'm doing it, and even though I can't give a definite answer, I always find myself plowing on, churning word after word with passion. I reckon I was born with a pen in my hand...

Bruce Hennigan said...

Man, are you right on the money! I am one of those writers who "can't NOT write". It is a bit dramatic to say that, but unfortunately it is true. It's almost a curse! I would love to walk away from the blank page and never have to bleed another drop of my darkness and pain and joy and depression onto that pristine white canvas. But, for me to breath is to write. I can't walk down the street without looking around me and constructing stories about the people I see, the situations I perceive, the fragrances, the oppressive air or light cool fog.

For me, when the time comes to sit down and discipline myself to write many times it is my desire to do away with this compulsion (?) to tell a story. To be free of that voice that babbles "what if" in my head. To just sit and be. Ah, that would be so nice sometimes. Sip coffee and let my mind go blank.

Nope! Never! Not going to happen. The challenge then becomes in taming this wild beast in my head; to bringing its efforts forward in a constructive fashion and make the story flow onto the page in a coherent fashion. To turn ramblings into Story. And, when that begins to happen, as you said, it's like magic! The creative juices flow. Time means nothing. I move into the zone of creativity and can only hope that what comes onto the page is truly worth the time for someone to read.

That is when the real work begins. That is when the editor in my head takes over and what was once pure, flowing creativity becomes more like sweaty, manual labor.

Have I wanted to turn over in the bed and ignore those galley proofs I have to go through? Have I wanted to linger at the church coffee shop over a latte and cinnamon roll for just a few more minutes instead of revising those final few chapters? You bet you. But, the beast in my head sees that I get up and get to it. And, I have to remember that God is the one who put the beast there. And so, in those moments I turn to God for inspiration and strength and clarity and to remember my Purpose as a writer: to tell a tiny part of His Story!

Jillian Kent said...

I'm back at the day job and all I want to do is SLEEP. :) I would be miserable if I quit writing but that doesn't mean I haven't thought about quitting. I think my head would explode if I quit. :)

I was walking down the hall at work the other day and someone said,"So what really goes on inside your head?" I asked them what they saw when they walked down the hallway we were standing in, it's a long one. They said, "doors, carpet, signs, etc." I said "I see dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, a knight in shining armor chasing that giant lizard from Harry Potter in The Chamber of Secrets, and the dwarf in my novel laughing till he falls over. There's more."

She laughed and shook her head and said, "You need a counselor." I said, "I am the counselor."

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar said...

Mike, I write because I can't not write. But what my creative mind puts on the page (or the computer screen) readers wouldn't want to read. It's then I have to think critically and chop and hack and rework until it's presentable. (And then I rewrite after my work goes through a substantive edit). So I can truly relate. Great post.

Lynda Schab said...

I just read another post on pushing through on my writer friend, Diane Loew's blog, (small plug for Diane - sorry). I'm thinking this must be something I need to work on. I'm the type that allows distractions to flood in and stall my engine. It's not that I get tired of writing, I am just undisciplined (deadlines work well, though). That doesn't mean I'm not plotting in my head, just that I don't spit out as many pages as I should. Gotta work on that. Thanks for a great post.