Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Column: The Business of Writing: Is It Good? By Linda Rohrbough

The Business of Writing: Is It Good?

by Linda Rohrbough
One of the things that never ceases to surprise me is the ups and downs I go through as a writer. My spouse says I have my pre-book depression, my mid-book depression, and my post-book depression.

I have a prolific friend who hates editing. He sees his first draft as genius. When it’s time to rework the thing, he can end up in a dark place.

For me, it’s the opposite. That shiny, glimmering, gossamer thing in my head I’m trying to get down on the page is so elusive, I can’t seem to capture it. Some days it feels like I’m close. Those are my good writing days. Others it feels like trudging through deep snow. Recently, I have more days when it just feels so darn ordinary, which also bugs me. In any case, what’s in my head is so much better than what ends up on the page, that I can get really disappointed.

I go through the stages of loss every time I write: anger, sadness, bargaining, denial, and finally acceptance. Once I get to acceptance, I go back and look at what I’ve written.

And I get another surprise. This isn’t half bad. What’s weird to me is my lack of objectivity about my own work. I’ve learned a bunch of tools for writing fiction to help me that I’ve put together in a workshop I do for writers groups. And I use those tools. But I find it interesting that I can’t tell when I rework the material if I had a good or bad writing day when I wrote it. I guess I could keep a writing journal and put it together from that.

What I do know is the only good that comes is when I write, good or bad day not withstanding. If I don’t write, if I put it off, I’m mad at myself. And that’s even more miserable.

As we go into the new year, I’m thinking about my process. I have goals. I always do. But I want to do more, faster. (There’s a shock, eh?) When I get around writers, we almost always end up talking about our process. The pros know themselves pretty well – how much they can do, when they like to write, how their process works. I find it endlessly fascinating.

And it helps. Like when I know I won’t be able to tell later what kind of day I was having when I got that on paper. That knowledge keeps me going when it gets tough. Maybe defining your process will help.

What’s it like for you? How do you work?

Best wishes for your writing in this shiny, glimmering, gossamer new year. I have high hopes for you, and for myself.

Linda Rohrbough has been writing since 1989, with over 5,000 articles and seven books along with a number of national fiction and non-fiction awards to her credit. Her latest book, co-authored with her surgeon, is Weight Loss Surgery with the Adjustable Gastric Band from Da Capo Press. She is also under contract for an iPhone App of her “Learn to Talk About Your Book” workshop, scheduled for release Spring 2011. Visit her website www.LindaRohrbough.com.

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