Saturday, January 23, 2010

Are We Just Crazy?

Today I am more than 6,000 words behind my goal for JanNoWriMo.  The only thing saving me at this point is that I am revising and much of what I've already done requires little editing.  However, it's also getting pretty boring the fifth time around.  I keep finding excuses not to work on it.

Which isn't to say that I need any excuses, as there certainly is enough for me to do around here at any given moment of the day.

Which brings me to the age-old question:  Are we crazy?  Why do we push ourselves to write?

Vikk Simmons has an interesting post about the psychological phenomenon of optimal experience, aka "flow," which is supposedly the truest form of happiness.  She postulates that writers, like all other artists, do what we do in order to experience flow - the suspension of time and place that comes from total immersion in our art.

I agree that in the first draft - when our imaginations are in high gear - there is definitely that suspension of reality that produces a euphoric high.  But by the fifth time around, writing is more like drudgery.  What we are doing, however, is fine-tuning our work so that one day, if all the planets align and the publishing gods smile upon our efforts, our readers can experience that same suspension of reality.

The author of the book that she cites, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, has this to say:

"The best moments usually occur when the person's body or mind is stretched to the limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult or worthwhile.  Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen."

So, let's make it happen.

I think that  the best way for me to do that is to stop going over the same old ground, and jump to the end of the last batch of revisions.  I stopped about 1/3 of the way through the book and went back to the beginning after my flogging.  I think I should pick up where I left off and focus on completing the entire manuscript before I revise again.


  1. I had the same kind of experience when writing the first draft of my WIP. I was about a quarter of the way through and I let some friends read the first 15,000 words.
    They gave me some feed back and I found myself doing revisions based on their feedback, and not writing the story anymore.
    After two months of making no forward progress, I stopped myself and started writing again. Even though a few people have asked to see more, I've resisted the temptation because I didn't get side tracked again.
    Not that I've finished the first draft, I'm glad that I made that choice. It's good to finished something.

  2. I think that before I started thinking seriously about publication, I enjoyed writing more, regardless of the draft number.

    Now, I worry about every word, every sentence. Does this sound sharp enough? Does it flow? Is it necessary? Is it trite? Did I pick the right POV? Is there enough tension? What will an agent or editor think of this paragraph?

    Kind of takes the fun out of it.


I apologize for the word verification. I hate it, but the spammers made me do it.