Weekend Wrinkle: Let’s Go, Wri-ter!

LGRI’m a New York Rangers fan – have been all my life. It’s a genetic thing.

“Sure,” you may think. “They’re a good team. It’s easy to be a fan when a team is good.”

I don’t disagree, but I have been a fan for, well, let’s just say more than “several” decades and leave it at that, shall we?

In all those years, I have seen versions of the Rangers come oh, so close to winning the Stanley Cup and falling short, like a quest for the Holy Grail. I got to witness them finally raising the Cup, something I honestly never thought I’d live to see. I’ve also seen iterations of the Rangers who skated like they couldn’t defeat a Pee Wee hockey team.

No matter what, I’ve stuck with them through thick and thin, through elation and despair, through admiration and frustration. Chicago Cubs fans — and fans of any professional sports team in Buffalo, New York — can empathize. You don’t ditch your team because they aren’t winning big.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if writers had supporters like that — people who stick with us through the peaks and the valleys? Don’t we writers need someone to build us up when things get rough? Wouldn’t it be nice to have encouragement when we’re struggling under the load of writer’s block? Where’s our cheering section?

Guess what! We can build our own legion of support. All we have to do is reach out. We can tap into friends. We can build a good relationship with our editor. We can connect with other writers through writing groups and events.

I’m off to just such an event this weekend. The Rock Hill Chapter of the South Carolina Writers Workshop is holding its Writers’ Intensive. While there, I’ll probably become part of the fan base of one or more writers. Maybe I’ll pick up a few fans of my own, people who really understand what writing is like.

So why not take some time to connect with the “outside” world and pick up a few fans of your own? Someday you might be sitting at your computer stumped and hear in your head some organ chords and the multitudes chant, “Let’s go, Wri-ter!”


Hey! I’m Working Here!

Joe Warnimont starts out his recent post, “A Day in the Life of a Writer: Temptations ThrouLion-writer workingghout” with a Pearls Before Swine cartoon that resonates with the wordsmith in me.

Procrastination is a writer’s greatest enemy. Why does it plague us so? Writing is such a personal, internal process. It is difficult, and we all try to avoid difficulty if we can.

A friend and I often joke that, when we are staring off into space, we’re writing. It’s true, though. When I started out in newspapers (lo! those many years ago), we used typewriters. To rearrange paragraphs, I had to literally cut and paste the paper the copy was written on. I hated that! I think it was because the rubber cement always got all over my hands and reminded me of boogers.

Anyway, to avoid that, I would sit and compose my stories in my head before I ever started typing. Anyone who saw me would assume I was goofing off. I’d look like I was procrastinating, but I really was working.

The real procrastination usually hits when I don’t know how to begin or when I get stuck and can’t continue. Then I’m like Dug in Disney’s Up. (Squirrel?!) I have to force myself to push through.

How? Well, sometimes I do get that cup of coffee. Sometimes I take a walk, pay bills, wash a load of clothes, play with the dog, or (if I’m desperately avoiding writing) vacuum. More often than not, I’m working something out in my head — or at least that’s what I tell myself.

Yes, there are those times when I really am avoiding writing. My problem is that I am constantly editing as I write (a bad habit I picked up as a reporter). If it’s not just right, I go back and fix it before I’m finished. All that stuff floating around in my head is not going to be perfect, but I want it to be before I type it out.

The blessed invention of word processing allows me to write garbage then go back and revise it without getting slime on my hands. When I am faced with a big, white computer screen, or when my sentence just stops and I’m not sure what the next word should be, I take a breath and press on with whatever garbage comes out of my fingertips.

I’m going to go back and revise it anyway.

(P.S. Joe has some great tips on avoiding procrastination. One thing I do is screen my calls through the answering machine. If I’m writing, I don’t pick up unless it’s an emergency – a real one!)