Tuesday, August 4, 2009

They're Coming to Take Me Away

My fairy god-writer, Laurie Halse Anderson is doing a write-every-day-in-August thingie. If I grow up, I want to be just like her, so of course I'm going to take her challenge.

But it’s starting to seem like there’s always a writing challenge.

I’m ALMOST getting tired of linking to these write every day/write 5000 words a day/write a novel in a month challenges. ALMOST. I’ll still link to and tell you about them because I think they’re useful.

One reason I like these dares is the sense of community inherent in them. I like that the lady who conceived of one of my favorite literary characters is also my writing coach, even if our connection is only virtual. Another thing I like is that writing challenges get us to approach our work in new ways. Writing outside our comfort zone, at a different phase of day, for a specific length of time: these steps teach us what doesn’t work as well as what does.

Interviewers always ask writers if they outline, like it matters. One person’s outline is another’s noose. If there's one thing I’ve learned from reading countless writing edicts, it’s that there are no rules. If you put words on paper, and something amazing emerges, you should be shocked. It’s striking gold and winning the lottery and being visited by Santa Claus. Yes, I want to know how you did it. No, the same steps might not work for me, or might.

The blathering on of my writing community is essential to my work. This letter from a successful writer to her dreamy young self had me so excited this morning. Devon Monk was writing to me too, whether she knows it or not.

Writing is lonely, and let’s face it, a little psychotic. Hearing that others are having my delusions is good for my self-image. The other day, Nathan Bransford blogged about the “Am-I-Crazies?” – the occasional wave of terror that makes us wonder if we are typing our lives away pointlessly. Yes, we are crazy. Many of us are crazily typing for fifteen minutes a day. Many of us are writing letters to former selves. We are alone, and un-alone, no?

Thanks so much to you strange people who dare me to write daily, who tell me to keep trying despite insurmountable odds, who suspend your disbelief and enter my stories.

Writing is a delicate balance of loneliness and community. How do you balance the two?


  1. how r yu..

    yor writing..on blog..

    makes yu so personable..

    its as if ..yu sumone we know...

    yu r an amazing writer..

    all d best for yor book release..

    god bless yu with success

  2. Blogging definitely helps with the loneliness. Also, what better thing for a crazy writer to do then to consort with other crazies? ;)