Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Jon made a comment on my last post that suggests I have not been clear.

I was trying to make three arguments:

1) Obligations of day to day life can interfere with productivity.

2) Some writers are more prolific than others, for whatever reason.

3) For many writers, writing is not easy.

I was also trying to distinguish between the mind set of a practical writer and the mind set a 'fine art' writer. It would be nice if some of the other Wyrdsmiths would jump into this discussion, since we probably have some differences of opinion about this.


Mari Adkins said...

1) Obligations of day to day life can interfere with productivity

Mari concurs. I have a hell of a time writing, reading, or editing when my son is at home. I have to save everything up for when I know he'll be out of the house. It's made this last year very difficult. He has a host of problems and he must be attended to - so everything else gets shoved aside.

3) For many writers, writing is not easy

I know many people like this. I'm not saying I'm perfect by any means. Sometimes I get good and well stumped on the simplest things.

Naomi said...

I understand some of John's frustration -- I definitely know people who like the idea of writing but fail to recognize that this means they need to make some choices about what they want to do with their free time, and that this may require a certain amount of self-discipline and also may require you to skip activities that are worthy and wholesome and good for you in their own right. When I am working on a project, I do a lot less leisure reading. I watch almost no TV.

On the other hand, I once chatted with a woman who told me that someday, she was hoping she'd be able to find time to write. At the time we had this conversation she had a set of 18-month-old triplets. You know, I'm not going to tell someone with toddler triplets that they just need more self-discipline in order to be a productive writer. Sometimes you really truly just do not have time to write, especially if you're not making any money off it (it's easier to squeeze out time for income-generating activities, because that allows you to rationalize paying for child care.)

Kelly McCullough said...

I took John's central point to be that either you will make writing a priority or you won't and that if you don't you're not going to get much writing done. Which is, I think, inarguably true. I also think that it probably describes the vast majority of people who don't get much writing done.

What I don't think he was saying is that people who don't get much writing done are bad people. Or that there aren't people who do care deeply about writing who don't get a lot of writing done. Or that people who place other priorities higher are wrong to do so.

Jon said...

(touches nose, points to Kelly)

Anonymous said...

I will say that Eleanor's post spoke a great deal to me. As my work life has grown more hectic and demanding over the last six years, I have had proportionally less energy to write. And when the demands of the job leave you exhausted, sleepless, and mentally fatigued despite a fairly rigorous adherence to a bedtime schedule, it is nearly impossible to tap into the well of words that produce words worth keeping.

That said, I also am aware that without putting my butt in the seat, there will be no words. This is not a new idea. As usual, I think this may be a case of stronger than necessary language use by the part of an internet poster, which invariably leads to stronger reactions and counter-reactions.

Kelly McCullough said...

I don't know that I agree that it's stronger than necessary language. I think it was probably very well phrased as a kick-in-the-butt for its target audience: would-be writers who are spending time they could be writing on things like too much TV.

The fact that it caused some collateral stress for a much smaller subset of serious writers who for one reason or another aren't in a position to produce as regular a flow of words is certainly unfortunate. But if Scalzi had put in a bunch of caveats and disclaimers his post probably would have lost most of its power to affect the intended audience.

I suspect that there are a lot more want-to-be-writers who need to hear an unambiguous get off your butt message than there are serious writers who are going to be upset by the post.