Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Polarity of Writing, And A Clip From Psych

Yesterday, I felt compelled to write. 

What a wonderful feeling. I must confess, it didn't start out that way. I always feel like my manuscript and I are magnets of the same polarity. Repelling one another. Which is why I need to set aside time in which I must write--while in the company of other writers.

Writing with others keeps me accountable to the goals I pledge to myself.

So, yesterday, I made myself go to the library, made myself open the computer, made myself look at my manuscript.

And when my writing time was up, I wanted to keep going, and going, and going.

It's been a very long time since I've had this happen. Too long.

Now, it might seem weird that my general feeling about writing is repulsion. Since I spend most of my time thinking about my novel, planning it, knowing it, wanting to write. But the actual act of sitting down and doing so repels me on some level. Even though I write every day (or nearly every day).

I don't know if it is about confidence, or fear of failure, or self-fulfilling prophecy, or the next big psych term.

And maybe that is why the show Psych works out so well--Shawn is a crazy character who could never push himself into the confines of being a traditional detective. Even though he feels compelled to solve crime. Instead, he pretends to be psychic. So he can be silly and witty and fun. (I'm breaking out into "I Feel Pretty" lyrics in my head.) He works with his compulsion, not against it. He works in a way which suits his personality. He solves crime, not in spite of himself. Because of himself.

Okay, my favorite nickname for Gus, Control-Alt-Delete, didn't make it into the clip. :)

We need to write because of who we are, not in spite of it.

Not to say I don't need to push myself. But I don't need to push myself to be something which I am not.

So, I find out what works for me--what makes me sit down and open up the document. Because once that document is open, it compels me to do something with it. Whether write or revise. Once I'm in, I'm in. Yesterday I was compelled to stay in. If I could have written all day, I would have. And it would have been good. Good writing. Stuff with pitch and power and pizzazz.

I don't think it makes me less of a writer that I am compelled and repelled by writing all at the same time. I think that is why writing is so difficult. And I imagine every form of art and expression brings with it some ambivalence. Some push and pull. And when we are strong enough to wade through the repulsion, we create something worthwhile.

Writing is risky.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Do you react similarly to writing? Or to creating? Do you struggle with the push and pull? What tricks do you use to help you write?

Maybe next time I open my manuscript, I'll pretend I'm psychic. That I know what my characters will do and go through. Oh, wait. That is something which I already pretend. :)


  1. sometimes it a struggle to find the right words, move forward, but usually (not always) it's because I'm coming at it the wrong way. Right now I'm working on two things, one new, one old, so if I can't find the way to go with the new, I go back to revising the old.

    oh, and psyche is hilarious.

  2. I feel the same way, a lot of the time. Once I actually get started though, I'm happy.

    Go figure.

  3. Being repelled by writing is just as powerful and useful as being compelled to write. The repulsion prompts you to look deeper within yourself and the story.

    My repulsion has been based off the pressure I apply to myself. I allow outside enemies to hinder my ability to write. I need to head to the coffee shop, which is where I produced dozens of short stories last year.

    Thank you, H. Thank you.


    Ahem. Sorry about that. LOL. I use music to help when I'm not in the mood, but sometimes, if I find myself getting distracted too easily, having to work too hard to stay writing, I let it go. I figure it's my muse's way of telling me she needs a recharge.

    Nice post! (And OMG THANK YOU for the Psych clip) :)

  5. Can so relate. I'm having a hard time getting psyched to write too.

  6. I know exactly what you're talking about, Heather. I go through the same thing! Those writing challenges seem to help me, which is why I signed up for NaNo, but it's not going as well as I'd hoped. But there's still a few days left!

    I've never seen Psych before, but that clip is pretty darn funny. Looks like a great show!

  7. I love those times when it just starts flowing. The more I try and set myself targets to get a certain amount of writing done in a set time (well I do have a full time job and limited writing time!), the less they come though!

    I just have to put on some music, go for a walk and let myself get excited by what's going to happen next so I get a scene in my head that just has to come out next time I sit down to my laptop.

    Great blog - so much going on, I'm going to have to have a little explore!