In my bio, I claim to be a reluctant writer, and I firmly believe that’s a true statement.
I’ve read more than a couple of books dealing with the writing process, and while there are many different suggestions for developing your craft, most seem to have two common suggestions: find a space to write, and write something every day. Well, I agree that for most people this is probably great advice, but sadly for me it doesn’t quite work that way.
When we moved to Lake Arrowhead, my ever-supporting wife suggested that I take the whole area on the second level of our house, previously used as a game room and make it my writing cave. I’d have a stunning view of the lake, be surrounded by inspirational books, paintings, and general nick-nacks from my past writing retreats, and therefore should have no problem penning many best sellers.
So I set up my gorgeous desk (I do love my desk: distressed wood, wrought iron, with a weathered leather writing surface) facing the lake, moved my superbly comfortable office chair into place, spent literally weeks deciding on a color for the walls (even researched color psychology on the net so I could choose one that aided in creativity), removed all the possible outside distractions, purchased an office armoire where we could keep all of life’s day-to-day minutia hidden from view (i.e. bills), then we stood back and admired my cave. It was perfect. I could almost feel my muse taking up residence in the reading chair by the window.
We moved into this house nineteen months ago and I’ve done some writing since then: finished my first full-length novel, started another new one, dug into one that I set aside a few years earlier, even wrote some poetry. Trouble is, I don’t sit down every day and write. In fact, I can easily decipher the work I’ve done on days that I did sit down and make myself write as opposed to the work I did when I felt that unconscious urge to craft letters into words, words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, blah, blah, blah. (Actually, I rarely use punctuation and I barely know when a sentence should end and a new one should begin – KVS edited this.) Sadly, the urge to write doesn't come along too often, so consequently all the writing I’ve done could’ve been done in the course of a month.
Oh, and my gorgeous, inspirational, cave has never been used for writing. Nope, not even once! Although I have sat at the desk a couple of times… to catch my breath after running up the outside stairs.
I guess my point is, that it’s okay if you don’t follow conventions, and it’s okay if you don’t write every day, and yes, it’s okay if you don’t have a cave. (By the way, I have done all my writing sitting at the dining room table in a chair that long ago lost any semblance of padding that faces the kitchen instead of the lake.) I may not write every day, but I never stop thinking about writing. I do envy the people who can get words on paper on a regular basis, but I no longer beat myself up because I can’t. I just try and make the most of it when it happens.
Two of my favorite books on the writing process:
Stephen King – On Writing.
Anne Lamott – Bird by Bird.