My guest today is Linda Collison, a poet and fiction writer:
Two challenges I face as a writer everyday are discipline and time management. Many days I fail miserably, yet over the years I’ve managed to complete, submit, and sometimes publish a fair amount of words. For me, a deadline is the best cure for frittering time away. Fortunately I have a deadline for my current project; the revision of a novel under contract and slated for publication in December, 2010.
At times when I’m not so fortunate to have a formal contract, I find it helpful to make my own mini deadline, and tempt myself with a reward for meeting it, usually something like a sunset glass of wine, or an extra piece of Belgian chocolate. (The first piece is not a treat, it’s medicinal!)
Paradoxically, the stress of not having a contract and deadline is worse than the pressure of having one. So in theory I should be less stressed writing under contract, not more. It all boils down to this: Not writing produces more stress in me than anything else.
For inspiration I look at the collection of inspiring sayings I have pinned to my bulletin board. Do what you love and the money will follow (Marsha Sinetar). My response: “Or maybe it won’t, but do what you love anyway, because life is short and why the hell not?”
Write what only you can, is another piece of advice I’m trying to follow. When I’m writing what only I can, I am productive, I am relieved of the pressing burden to express myself, I am taking part in creation. When I write what only I can, I am happy, I am me.
Raw writing, stream-of-consciousness writing, call it what you will, mine isn’t fit for other eyes to read. I’m not a natural writer. It takes me many revisions to shape that first slurry into something readable and understandable. But I’ve found that if I don’t allow that jumble of words to pour forth onto the page willy-nilly, I have nothing to edit.
Only the hand that erases can write the true thing (Meister Eckhart) Write through the stress, the mess! Write around the block, through the block, just write, dammit, as though your life depended on it!
My coffee break is over, my deadline calls, and I must return to the umpteenth revision of Andromeda. My deadline looms. Time is short and the water rises!
Ultimately what it comes down to is: We must all tend our gardens (Voltaire). May yours grow well and may we exchange the fruits and flowers of our labors, in their season.