Sometimes, I think I’m optimized to be a writer.
Not that I believe there’s some magical blueprint out there on How To Build an Ideal Writer (“follow these steps ten easy steps and water twice a day”), nor do I believe that an ideal writer is made in only one way, for the world is full of writers, and all of them possess their own particular way of doing what they do best.
Yet, I definitely believe that certain aspects of my personality, temperament, and behaviour contribute positively to my writing endeavours, at least the way I endeavour to do so:
- I have a very long attention span
- I can physically sit still for long periods of time
- My brain naturally amuses itself by telling stories
- I’m an unrepentant daydreamer
- I’m curious about people’s inner lives
- I have a strong vocabulary
- I believe the best way to explain something is through a story
- I’m all about delayed gratification
Plus, there are certain technicalities that likewise predispose me to writing as opposed to another form of art:
- I draw at a grade five level
- I’m too ham-fisted to even text properly, let alone sculpt
- I have an under-developed sense of what colours go well together
- I’m much more auditory than visual
- I can type really fast
What’s the hold-up?
Given all these valuable literary characteristics I possess, one would think I’d be way more prolific a writer than I am.
You’d think I’d way better at getting my thoughts and ideas organized and settled so that I could crank out pages like in my Gravatar image. You’d think that in the eight years it’s been my goal to someday be published, I’d have way more than only one novel and about one-third of a second one completed. Admittedly, I was only actively writing for about two-and-a-half years out of those eight, but still.
Although I may be occupied with writing as much as I can, and remain preoccupied by it even when doing other things, the truth it, I don’t always put my best writerly qualities their best use.
I know why.
If I was going to compile a list of the circumstances that prevent me from being a more effective writer, it would look something like this:
- Having a full-time job
- Not getting enough sleep/being too tired to write
- Other obligations that require my time
- Other hobbies besides writing
These I refer to as the distractions. These are the things that all writers have to deal with – the unavoidable elements of everyday life that in one way or another need to be controlled for for a writer to make time to write.
Distractions, in my opinion, are not justifiable excuses for not writing efficiently because they’re always going to be an issue. Unless I’m prepared to endure a drastic change in lifestyle (which I’m not), the distractions will keep on distracting until the end of all things.
Then there are the subtractions.
Subtractions are much more specific and technical considerations that hinder my writing – things that subtract from my word count, and from the amount of time I spent at work on my novel-in-progress:
- Not thinking about my novel-in-progress enough during the day, or not starting to think about it soon enough
- Stopping each writing session at the end of my ideas
- Not having an outline to follow, or having holes in my existing outline
- Trying to write in new/alternate locations or otherwise in the wrong environment
- That fact that I form sentences in my mind very slowly (fast typist notwithstanding)
Not that any of these are justifiable excuses for not writing efficiently, either, for they are all within my power to change if I harness the will to do so. But this list, at least, is more unique in that it doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone.
Here’s where you come in…
My subtractions list – although other writers may have similar shortcomings – is much more personalized than that of the distractions, which is more or less universal.
But I am curious to know what subtractions other writers struggle with.
In an effort to make this blog more interactive for my readers and blog followers, I invite you to submit your own writing subtractions via the comments.
For each submission I receive, I will write a post for the submitter, discussing my own take on the issue and how one might go about addressing it. From there, I will invite the original submitter to write a follow-up post on his/her own blog, which – should s/he choose to do so – I will link back to this blog.
I will also be writing a separate post about each of my own subtractions and the efforts I’m making to overcome them.
I love learning about myself as a writer, and am really interested in learning more about the various people who have chosen to join me along my writer’s journey. So leave your subtraction entries in the comments, and let’s become better writers together!
(Word cloud via Wordle)