Friday, June 17, 2011

Forgetting How to Write

Every once in a while when I am between projects for too long (in this case I just wrapped up a giant revision and have been submitting some things and working through the business end of the writing process, as opposed to the writing end), I have a terrified moment where I actually stop and think about what I do-- that is, write-- and realize I have no idea HOW I'm doing it.

How does one go about bringing a whole entire world to life? Or forget a whole world, maybe just one character? And where do you BEGIN?  It's an incredibly tall order when I stop and think about it for too long. Incredibly intimidating, too. What gives me the right? And how do I order these words on a page to make it into something more than just... words on a page? What makes my words into people and places and things and laughter and sorrow? And what am I supposed to write next?

That's really the most terrifying part, maybe. I have a moment where I forget my list of things I want to write next, and stare at the computer thinking "if someone asked me to start writing, I would not know what to do." It isn't that I don't remember how to put a sentence together, it's that for that brief horrifying moment, all the ideas I had for future projects have vanished, and I am left a writer without a story. And what is a writer without a story? Can that person even be called a writer anymore?

It never lasts. Even now as I'm writing this, I'm remembering all the projects I've been meaning to work on. A scene for a book I've given up on publishing, but want to insert because I love it. Pirithous, of course, because we cannot give in and let Pelagia win. The Bronze Age Norse book, for which I have notes staring at me from a whiteboard on the wall. And the experimental nano novel that needs to be rewritten, about my poor Evelyn trapped in the psych ward during the world wars. To name just a few.

But man.
It takes a certain amount of hubris to think I have the chops to pull any of this off. Being a writer plays at being a god. Just like Tolkien said.


  1. We are on the same wavelength today. Sometimes I can't imagine how my brain is holding all the research and character history and plot complications without suffering a complete shutdown. And sometimes, I just sit and look at the screen and wonder what in the heck I was thinking trying to tackle this dragon called writing. Then, out of nowhere, I slay it, and move on to the next. :) Great post.

  2. OMG yes. It is a little different for me as I have no list and no plan but I definitely get the forgetting to write. If I pause for too long or think too much I forget how it is one does that.

    Fabsies post! I find the most important point the fact you have a whiteboard. HOLY AWESOME BATMAN!

  3. Charissa: Yes! It is a tremendous thing to hold it all together.

    Mia: ahaha. I went out and bought one a while back. it is magnetic, too! I figured it would be good for plotting but I am not good at plotting even WITH the board. ah well.

  4. I'm here now. And at this moment, I truly believe I've forgotten to write and can't imagine that I'm the same person that's already completed three novels. Where is that person now?

  5. *hugs* I know exactly what you mean! Now that my novel's written, I can't seem to jumpstart my next. I think I've been in that world for so long that I need to ease myself into my next world instead of rushing into it... I dunno!

  6. So true. For me writing often feels like like a game of double dutch jump rope. The slap of the rope, the thread of falling flat on my face, the need to jump in at exactly the right moment to get the rhythm. It's scary, and I don't think that feeling ever goes away completely.


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