the habit of writing

Ron Charles, Washington Post Fiction Editor, tweeted this article on the habit of writing this morning. I was talking with my accountability partner yesterday about writing, realizing that when he asked me about Steinbeck’s letters, JS influenced me greatly from the beginning. I took to heart Steinbeck’s advice to work a lot of different jobs in order to get a feel for people’s lives. Temp work is perfect for this. I worked a day on an assembly line, in photo studios, San Diego’s tech companies, the big entertainment conglomerates in Hollywood, etc. I have seen a VP not understand her team wanting to go home after 10 hours at the office. Her reply: why would I want to go home and pretend to like Candyland and pretend to lose to a 3 year old? The worst part of that scenario for her was the losing (shudder).

The other point we discussed is to outline or not to outline. I don’t. It would take all the fun out of it. For me, it’s the discovery. I’d rather go back and deal with structural issues than give up the joy of not knowing what’s going to happen next. As you enter that stream of mini-decisions that make up the flow of writing, well, that’s the high right there. Yesterday, that process also allowed a scene to connect back with something earlier and solve a problem. Wasn’t anything I did consciously, but there’s nothing like it when it does happen.

Writing, exercise, sports: Just do it.

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