On Writing

(There are some bad words here. Apologies for the language. *curtsies*)

There are times when writing is like trying to catch lightning bugs. It’s fun until it’s frustrating but it’s still a warm, beautiful night.

There are times when writing is like trying to catch a fish with your hands. There’s so much flowing through your fingers that all you can do is grasp and hope you got what you needed.

There are times when writing is like trying to dredge a pond. You find sludge and sludge and nothing and nothing and then suddenly you find treasure. Or a dead body. Whatever it is it’s fantastically interesting and it consumes you for days on end.

And there are times when writing is like trying to take a shit when you’re really, really constipated. It hurts and it’s not very dignified and your face is all scrunchy but you need to get this out NOW. NOW because it’s convenient and there’s a deadline and you should have thought to eat some prunes but you didn’t and now you need to shit before this meeting or you will have to shit during the whole meeting and you will lose your job because you’re focusing on your sphincter and not the task at hand.

And so you’ve forced this stuff out of your ass (because yes, you’re creatively constipated. That is what it is.) and you take a look at it.

And is it good?

You just shat it out. Why would it be?

This is why deadlines can be a pain in the butt. Literally. Err…figuratively. This is why setting several little deadlines for yourself can be much more useful than one big whomping spectre of a deadline that always looms in the distance and then pops up when you least expected it. (Despite you knowing exactly when it is.) That way you get into the habit of creating rather than the panic of “need to get this done.” Or just find a way to love yourself and your own work enough that you always want to sit down to write. Easier said than done, I know.

And remember, every single word you write adds to that stack of experience that makes you better in the long run. One of the speakers at my school, an acclaimed TV writer, said that he had an interview with a showrunner when he had just graduated film school. The showrunner asked him how high his pile was. The writer blinked. What? “Your pile. If all your finished work was in a pile, how tall would it be?” The writer shrugged, placed his hand perpendicular to his knee. “Come back when it’s above your waist.” the showrunner said. “We’ll talk.”

Feel free to substitute “creating art” for “writing.” Being a director, I tend to think of creating art as collaboration, so that has its own challenges and many, many joys, chief among them being that you can look to someone else to blame / inspire. They often overlap after all.

(Cross posted at the Lillian Lemoning Tumblr.)