Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tim Hallinan/Managing Writing Sessions

Check out Tim Hallinan's The Blog Cabin for a good post on managing writing sessions. In "The Writing Session (1)" Tim gives some solid advice to those of us who despair of ever finishing a manuscript. He deftly puts together some tips on overcoming the fears that stop some of us from completing stories or novels we start writing. I admit, I've seen all these tips before in one form or another, but I like the way Tim organizes them and sets them out.

I have no problem at all writing nonfiction. I write legal opinions in my day job and have been doing it for so many years it is second nature. I edited a newsletter for a writers' group for several years, which included writing most of the copy for the newsletter, and I always found it easy and enjoyable. My writing problems arise when I try to write fiction. Despite my long-professed desire to be a novelist, I have the greatest difficulty making myself work on my manuscripts-in-progress. When I sit down to work on one or another of the several novels I've started, my mind goes blank, I become uncontrollably restless, and everything I set down seems trite or stereotypical or something everyone's done before.

Tim has promised a Part II of "The Writing Session," and I look forward to reading it.


Charles Gramlich said...

I wonder if your long-term and prodigious reading habit is part of why what you write on your own seems trite.

Steve Malley said...

What are the words to that old song?

'Don't worry that it's no good enough, for anyone else to hear...
Just write, write a book..'

Add na-na-na-na-na's to your heart's content. Just so long as you shut off that naggy little critic telling you you're doomed before you start.

Looking forward to reading that blessay!

Lisa said...

I am headed to that post RIGHT NOW and I believe there is more than a little truth to the comment Charles left in my case.

Shauna Roberts said...

I find I can't accurately judge the quality of what I'm writing when I'm writing it. So many times I've written articles and thought, Boy, I'm really going to have to work on this a lot before I turn it in. Occasionally that's true. But most of the time, when I go back to the "horrible" article, the problems are either easily fixed or all the article needs is a strong polishing. (Of course, the flip side is that sometimes I write something that I think is great, and when I go back to it, it's so bad that I start over.)

No writer ever reaches perfection. Only a rare few join the list of the greatest writers in history. By definition, only 1% of today's writers are in the top 1% of writers (except in Lake Woebegone). I believe in aiming high, but I also believe that if you can touch people, make them think, make them laugh, teach them something, then your prose is worthwhile, even if you're in the bottom 1% of writers.