Why Do You Keep Writing?

It’s late at night and I can barely keep my eyes open. I sit at the keyboard pondering what the next paragraph holds, trying to figure out where a comma should go, and realized I used “the” about a billion times.

Sound familiar? It should if you are a part time writer.

A writer might admit that the craft can be a bit tedious. If they are really honest they would say that it is war. Writing requires the author to be attentive to every single word that is placed on the page. It can be hard to keep your concentration as there are only a few opportunities in a day when you can momentarily swing your attention to your work.

Someone might ask you why you would even write at all? That someone might be you. And, after all, they might have a point. It’s not a viable source of income. Of course there are the Rowlings, Tolkiens, and Grishams’ who’ve make millions. But, there aren’t that many authors that can support themselves solely through writing. Just have a gander around your local bookstore to see the tens of thousands of books. Most of those authors are still working their day jobs.

Why then? If there is little or no money in it, why even write at all?

For some it might be the fact that to write, and to write well it requires honesty. Therefore it is a place to be yourself. For others the allure of a big contract is there, and let’s be truthful that is in the back of all of our minds. The reason I write is because through a collection of experiences I began to understand there was a story for me to tell and I liked it and wanted to write it. For me its that simple. It is true that writers are supposed to write for their audiences but its equally true that they write for themselves (with the audience at the forefront of their mind of course!).

So, readers, why do you put words on the page?

Writing to Music – Impossible or Essential?

At first I thought the idea preposterous. Trying to articulate a sentence using carefully chosen words, while guitars, drums, and a forlorn singer are echoing rhythmic poetry into your ears at unnecessary loud volumes. It’s like two people trying to go through a turnstile to board a subway from opposite sides. It simply does not work…or does it?

Coincidentally, I have, at least to my feeble understanding of what writing is, composed my best chapters when listening to Frightened Rabbit or one of my favorite classical movie soundtracks. I even finished a draft of a novel while doing it. I am not sure if it is the simple fact that I listened to the same music again and again while writing a particular chapter or novel, but after a while, I simply could not write without music.

There are many places to get music: iTunes, Pandora, but I choose Grooveshark. My friend Josh introduced me to it and its my favorite website for music I’ve discovered thus far. If you have other places (legal domains only please) do share.

I often write to Frightened Rabbit‘s live album Liver!Lung!FR! Why? I’m not sure exactly. While their music may be sometimes over the line, they remind me of Mumford & Sons only a bit more, well, English.

The soundtrack to Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen has been a favorite. The single movie of the trilogy that I did watch, I did not like. But the soundtrack to Transformer 2: Revenge of the Fallen help me finish my latest draft on The Tale of Calelleth. Why? The noble trumpets made me think of a cavalry charge and self-sacrifice, two events incorporated at the end of my book.

The soundtrack to War Horse is my new favorite. I have started my next novel which takes places at Keuka Lake in upstate New York. Its a tremendously verdant area, filled with green mountains, groves and groves of trees, and deep mysterious lakes. It is also about friendship between two kids who meet there one summer and an event that changes them forever. I hear this in the music. I can imagine the films’ landscape while listening to the soundtrack and it combines a feast of imagery that fuels my writing.

Regardless of what I listen too it must either fit the story or scene. It can also be the a random album just like Frightened Rabbit. However, I could never write about something sad while listening to a song blazing at a furious pace. For that I must have something melancholy, striking a chord, releasing a flood of mental images that pours from my finger tips and onto the page.

How about you? What music do you listen to when you write, if any? Do you find it too distracting?



Day 7 of 500 Words – Dress Like You’re A Writer

I went out to write with my friends Josh and Andy last night and was able to finish the five hundred words with ease. It is true that writing only gets better with more writing, sort of like forcing yourself to eat something until you like it. I did it with coffee and tea, now the staple drinks of my diet.

When I was young I played a lot of sports. My parents bought many gloves and shoes, cleats and hockey sticks, and many many more clothes and equipment. They usually purchased some of the more expensive equipment when they could afford it.

Yes, I dress like a grandpa when I want to get into the writing mood.

Now a lot of parents out there might say that this is a waste, for kids tend to grow rather quickly, but they were not concerned with that. My father always told me that you play as good as your equipment. In other words, if you have some of the best soccer boots in the game, you are no longer self conscious about how you look as most young teenagers would be. You believed the commercials and articles and pictures about them, so you could run fast and longer and harder than anyone else.

I think this applies in many walks of life. We dress for many occasions. We dress for business or a wedding. We dress for college or a hockey game with the intent of looking like someone who belongs.

There are times when I am not in the mood to write or don’t have the energy to do so, but need to get something done. This is when I default to my slippers and tea or coffee. The best way for me to get into the writing mood are those two things. Then I feel ready, prepared, and confident.

Do you have any routines you do before writing?