Writer Woo-Woo

Posted Fri, 07/20/12

Over the years, I've lost count of the various author blogs I've read that go on and on about hearing their characters "speak" to them as they write. Come on, already! It's such a literal load of codswallop, honestly. I quickly lose interest in such blogs and rarely go back for seconds.

I can understand becoming attached to your characters perhaps, and even envisioning how they might look in your head as I certainly did with the lot in Collective Obsessions (see Deidre's boards at Pinterest), but hearing them speak? Fictional characters don't carry on conversations in anyone's head, frankly, but if you are hearing them maybe it's time to have that same head examined by a professional.

Therefore, I was relieved to read a blog entry at Indies Unlimited where an author named John Gilstrap voiced similar views. This is just a portion of what he opined:

I've been thinking recently about the process of writing; specifically about how little of it I truly understand. I've seen some reasonable success over the years, but I'll be damned if I know anything about the process. There's a lot of talk in writing forums and in the blogosphere about the woo-woo of writing—that romantic crap about muses and attitude and characters talking to us and taking over the story. In my experience, that's all bullshit. Writing is about tying your butt in a chair and letting fly with the story that's screaming to come out. Motivation doesn't matter, and neither does background music. If you're a professional, you produce solid work to the deadlines that are assigned. The rest doesn’t matter.

To clarify, I've never heard of John Gilstrap before today, nor have I read any of his books, but most of his observations ring true.

One thing I might be guilty of is the need to write in the relative cool, as well as peace and quiet. Heat and loud noises simply make me irritable, so I wouldn't call the preferences anything akin to inspiration.

More from Gilstrap:

Here are my words of advice for frustrated writers whose woo-woos keep evading them: Quit waiting for the muses to inspire you or your characters to lead you. They're all imaginary, and they reside exclusively in your head. They're lazy and they're recalcitrant, and they won't do a damn thing to help you if you don't grab them by the nose and tell them what to do.

Having a vivid imagination helps, too. Being an only child, I was quite often left to my own devices. It was either create something interesting, or go mad with boredom. It obviously carried over into my adult life because my imagination still runs wild at times, especially when I'm writing or contemplating a new project. In the middle of all that is the awareness of other writing elements: plot construction, threading and strident attempts to keep from meandering. And as loathsome as the editing process sometimes is, it is quite often the last saving grace.

I don't claim to be brilliant, deep or otherwise prolific as an author. However, I know I'm a better writer than I was ten years ago, and hope to become even better as time marches on. I can say, without a doubt, that the drive to write is very strong within me. It always has been, as my memory serves to date. Whether I'm any good at it is left for the reader to decide. Either way, I'll likely continue to write as long as there is breath in my body and lucidity in my thoughts.

Writing is a continual learning process, which is the way it should be.

Irish Eyes: Writing

Tags: Writing