Authors on The Act of Writing

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Are they 'compelled' to write, or must they chain themseleves to their desks...

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Which of the following words describes you as a writer ~ and 'why': Compelled, resigned, committed, regurgitated.

Jason: "I donít buy into the whole idea of the writer who ďsimply must.Ē Still, compelled fits. Like most writers, I want people to read me. And I mean meme, like the me that is behind my work. Maybe we fail to connect in our personal lives so we seek a larger sense of connection.

We write and push the writing out into the world like a gift, but in truth, it is for ourselves we do it. And beneath that tree it is overly crowded with ďgiftsĒ already, and the truth is the world doesnít need another piece of fiction any more than it needs another supermodel glam shot.

I do it anyway, writing. So maybe the best word is resigned."

Laurel: "Committed. It is what has stayed with me since I was six years old. It's what I want to do instead of working for a living or cleaning the house."

Bee: "Compelled."

bard: "which one doesn't? I have been all of the four .... I have often been compelled by the resignation to the status quoa, and committed to regurgitating all those bizarre things I see onto paper so that HOPEFULLY someone else might see them too..."

Kim: "Compelled and committed. Writing makes me happy -- very happy. If I stopped writing, I don't know what I'd do. Writing is not only what I do, but also what I believe I was meant to do."

Stephen: "None of those words describe me. I donít belong. I donít fit into anyoneís bucket, even when I wish to. Unconventional and raw describe me. Not to detract, but often I wonder if I exist at all."

Josh: "Iíd have to say compelled. Simply because when I write something, itís because I want to. Thereís probably a wordier way to say that, but thatís the pretty much the core of it."

Jude: "Compelled. I've written for as long as I can remember and it's so much a part of who I am, that I'm not sure what I'd do if I couldn't write. There are days when for one reason or another I can't get to the keyboard and it's as if I'm in withdrawal. My characters badger me, scenarios race through my mind, I need to write so they leave me alone. But, it's also something I love. I get up in the morning and can't wait to get to the piece I'm working on, or to that next one that's been poking at me. I love my job."

Angela: "All and none of the above at different times with compelled being numero uno more than any other. I have a love/hate relationship with writing. I would love to write full time, I would love to write beautiful poetry. But, I am running a business and it does take much energy and much time....damn it!"

Heather: "Compelled. There are things we do because we want to and things we do because we have to. I'm driven by the need to create stories. If I didn't write, didn't listen to that gnawing inside of me... well, I have no idea what I'd do."

Jewel: "I would have to call myself committed without discipline. If I werenít I would never have decided to go after the degree in writing at my age."

Gwen: "Committed and compelled. I absolutely love what I do. I cannot imagine doing anything else. I am fully committed to this career, mostly because I love it so much. Iím compelled to write because I have something to say...and until I say it, those words are going to run around in my head and demand a voice."

Ina: "hmmm...I think Compelled. I'm writing about this for my budoir piece so you have to see it there" *wink*

Katy: "Regurgitated? Now that would be interesting :)

Iím absolutely compelled to write. I always wanted to be a writer, even though I didnít actualize that dream until I was in my early thirties. Now I always think about writing; my mind is constantly spinning, coming up with new story, article or book ideas; so many, as a matter of fact, that I could never get them all done in my lifetime. I feel very passionate about my chosen career.

Iím also a musician and songwriter, so Iím also compelled to write song lyrics, especially about things that deeply move me.

I donít journal, however, Iíd rather write for money :) I save my angst for songs and the rest of the time I want to get paid to put my words on paper.

Committed is also a good word to describe how I feel about writing. Itís my profession and I take it very seriously. Especially since Iíd never had a ďrealĒ profession before this; I just kind of drifted from boring job to boring job. Iíve headed off in different directions as the years have gone by - I have my newsletter and site for writers and Iím also doing more and more website design Ė but writing is still my main source of income and Iím very dedicated to doing a good job."

Rose: "I can't use those 4 words to describe myself as a writer. I'd rather say "ecstatic"."

Tell us of your process of writing.

Bee: "I spend a great deal of time thinking, walking around making notes on scraps of paper, starting and abandoning endless projects, reading, worrying, and arranging trips to places I had no prior wish to visit. When I work in a proper building with electricity and internet access I squander vast amounts of time checking email and doing online research. For the past year my office has been a canal boat moored in an English university town, which offers some new distractions: a fire to build for heat, swans peering in the windows asking for food. I pace up and down the boat, brow furrowed, convinced that I have never accomplished anything. But eventually, in sporadic bursts, I somehow manage to sit down and write. I can never predict when I will find that focus, though my family members say that I tend to be more distracted and fussy right before I write a new piece."

Angela: "I still don't have a process....I just type an go where it goes. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!"

Kim: "I don't really have a formula, but I can tell you that I'm not a fast writer and I need to work in silence. With the exception of The Ass Monologue, which I wrote in ten minutes, most essays take me hours...sometimes days. I have to get up and walk away from a piece every couple of hours. When I come back to it, I'm usually able to find the word I couldn't find before or rewrite/edit it so that I say what I'm trying to say using fewer words. When I'm writing dialogue, the process is faster because dialogue is so much more forgiving."

Katy: "Years ago I read that Diana Gabaldon, who writes the fictional Outlander series, doesnít always write a book in chronological order. She said she writes bits and pieces here and there, jumping between scenes and time periods, and then strings them together later. At the time I was shocked to hear that! How could a writer not go from beginning to end?

Now Iíve found that my writing process is very similar. When I have a story or an article to write, I start with the easiest part first, which means I write whatever flows best. If I have a great idea for dialogue during a sex scene, or a killer outro, Iíll begin with that. Then when I reach a stopping point, whether itís a mental block or one dictated by the story, Iíll start someplace else.

Mainly Iíve found that itís important to write and not censor myself, at least not on the first or second draft. I just write. For example, last night I needed to finish the rough draft of a fetish article Iím doing. I was tired and didnít feel like the piece was making all that much sense but, as usual, I just gutted it out and got close to the word count before I quit. I didnít think too much about it, I just kept typing.

This morning I found that it wasnít all that bad. Sure there was plenty that needed to be rewritten and fine tuned, but I had the basic structure down. If Iíd tried to be too detail oriented last night, however, I wouldnít have gotten anything done.

Which brings me to the second part of my writing process: rewriting. So many wannabe writers donít understand that you have to wade through a piece again and again until everything flows. That may take only three tries if youíre very lucky, or it may take thirty or more. You have to work through it till itís done, no matter how long it takes.

Another thing that many erotica writers donít understand is that writing can be a passion, but itís also a job. I donít light the candles and wear lacy lingerie when I write, Iím lucky to be halfway presentable in a t-shirt and jeans :)

I have found that I seem to write best in the afternoon and early evening. I like to take care of everything else in the morning and settle down with an assignment later in the day."

bard: "process? are you kidding me? if I said my greatest consistency is my inconsistencies, would that allude to any rumored "process"?

I basically try to write something everyday. now I am in a prose/verse mode. but I push myself to prove my worth on this planet and all the valuable resources I take up are not so wasted..."

Josh: "The thing I find that most separates me from most writers is that I have to know exactly where Iím going when I start. I need to figure out Point A, Point B, Point C, and Point D, and I have to have a pretty good idea of how Iím going to get there. Not to say that canít evolve as the show comes together, but Iíve never been able to sit down and ďjust writeĒ. When you write [The kind of stuff I write at least] you have to be going somewhere. You have be building to something. I say that, but even I havenít completely mastered that yet, and I hope I never do, cause itís those discoveries that lead to some pretty amazing work."

GaŽlle: "Complete and utter chaos. I write chunks here and there and, in the end, piece it together like a puzzle."

Stephen: "Confessions of a Womanizer were diabolic, premeditated, Cooking Bacon Naked was written in a manic state, Little Black Book was written in both. I donít pick a topic to write; it chooses me based on my mindset. What I write comes to me inevitability, the way drinking too much gets you drunk."

Jason: "Most of my writing is done pre-writing, which is to say I think about a project for a long time. I make some notes. A sort of rough outline, the way I teach students to do when they mean to write a screenplay, and then, by the time I sit down and actually write, itís closer to an exercise in typing.

I type and type and type.

Then I let it rest. Then I come back, a month later, something like that, for a major redrafting. Iíll let it rest again, redraft again, and by then, perhaps, Iím getting close."

Kat: "There is no 'process'so to speak...I just sit down and let my fingers type away with whatever pops into my head..then go re-read it to check for grammar and spelling, and send it off."

Kola: "I can't write everyday--I write in bunches or long binges late at night. I think for years about the characters and the message of the story and I replay the story in my mind like a movie. That's always how it starts, as a movie in my mind--and then I eventually start writing it, and because I see things in "scenes", it helps tremendously with the editing."

Jewel: "I am mainly a poet. My roots are in poetry. And for me poetry is verbal and meant to be read aloud. Very often I will hear a phrase or sound and it will trigger thoughts that work themselves into a poem. As for the prose, I draw heavily on my theatre background. I start off with an image (thanks to my art background) and then follow the magic ďwhat ifÖĒ that drives theatre. I write, rewrite, and ďbetaĒ test with my friend. If it doesnít pass the ďbetaĒ test, it may not see the light of day."

Jude: "Great question. I've just begun writing specifically for certain publications. So, I don't, or rarely, just sit down and write whatever comes to mind anymore. I have a spreadsheet that I keep up to date, and each morning I'll check on it to see which calls for submission I need to get busy on, or I'll have a work in progress that needs to be finished.

When I decide where I'm going to send the story, then I can sit and focus on what I need to write. Once the genre is decided I'll draw up a really loose plot line. And I mean loose, this changes as I go. If I'm working on a short story, that's all I'll need. Something longer, I'll decide who many chapters, then make up a loose draft for each chapter, decide on how many words per chapter roughly, then I'll start writing.

I write from beginning to end. Some authors can skip around writing chapter ten, the jump to chapter 14, but I can't do that. I can usually get somewhere between a thousand and two thousand words done a day. Sometimes it's only five hundred, but sometimes it's as many as five thousand. The daily goal I've set for myself is a thousand.

Once I've got the entire story done, I'll try to leave it alone for awhile. The longer the better. Going back to it, I'll edit it from one end to the other. Then I'll send it to a friend or two and have them tear it apart. When it comes back, I'll do more editing. This part is where some newer authors skimp, and it's the most important. If you can't polish your work, an editor or publisher isn't going to be too impressed. Always, and I can't stress this enough, ALWAYS, send the best copy to the publisher."

Laurel: "I get a sudden idea. If I wait too long, I lose it. The first sentence I put down is key. I have to have that sentence. Once I have it, the rest flows, although I rewrite and rewrite. For my erotica, I mostly delve into my own past and embellish (or not) the truth. Only in a few of my stories did I fabricate from whole cloth. In the Kensington Ladies' group, I am sometimes moved by Bernadette's writing. It is what the French call "quelque chose de trop," but she has a wild and rich vocabulary and a way with words. She thinks in such sensuously delicate ways that I go home resolving to be more artful in my writing."

Gwen: "My writing begins with a short story, or a journal entry, or a few notes jotted down while sitting in traffic. I typically write a few chapters of a novel from that, and then decide where Iím going with it. Is this a short story? Do the characters have more to say? I decide from there, and then I get serious about plot and structure, revamping the first few chapters and planning the new ones. Most of my novels arenít planned until they are actually started, but once I get moving on them, Iím completely focused and writing at least a solid four hours a day until I get it done."

Ina: "Process? There's supposed to be a process? When I feel a need, I write. Often times it's always in a little notebook that usually goes with me everywhere and I jot things down when I think of them or when I am easedropping *laughs*"

Heather: "I write every day. Some people take time to mull over characters and plot, but when I'm in First Draft Land, I just sit in front of the computer and let it pour out of me. It's like building a person from scratch: the first draft is my skeleton (just get the story out, down, put it together before I forget), the second attaches muscle and vein (thickening my detail and adjusting my plot) and the third draft adds skin and hair, prettying it up for the reader. When I'm not writing, I'm making notes on whatever's available to me: napkins, envelopes, etc. I have an entire drawer stuffed with notes.

But the key, I think, is to write every day (even when you don't want to) and to never give up."

Rose: "I love to collaborate but that isn't essential for me anymore. It certainly helped me find my legs & get started."

What are your current projects?

Laurel: "I recently started writing articles for magazines, a market I have never thought to take on because I felt it was too controlled and contrived. But I now have had three pieces published, one related to my guidebooks to spas in California, one to my interest in small hotels, and one to my vintage house remodel. I have a funny one that is a little offbeat and I don't know where to put it. But I am finding it fun to do these articles even though editors are "tight" about what tone they want and I sometimes feel compromised. I have also written a few things for ezines, one the get your ego out of the way piece, another "Shy About Going to a Health Spa," and another "Quick Fixes for the Grammatically Challenged Entrepreneur." (I have an editorial services business.) My major project is my memoirs, triggered by what I went through restoring the urban farmhouse, vintage 1881, that I live in now. It brought up a lot of memories.I have five chapters in first draft stage but paying jobs keep diverting me. I get flashes of things I want to write about--exciting thoughts, sharp insights, good lines--but they fade out because I have no time to get them down."

Hanne: "My new book, "Virgin: The Untouched History" will be coming out from Bloomsbury in 2006. It's a cultural history of virginity in the West ranging from roughly the time of Aristotle to the present."

Heather: "I have stories scheduled to appear in two separate issues of Morbid Outlook and in Descending Darkness. I am also a contributing member and book reviewer of Backspace writers' organization."

Kim: "Currently, I write a column called "Don't Quote Me!" on It's "dedicated to all the people in and out of Hollywood who talk without thinking or who don't know when to stop talking." It's loads of fun! While writing and promoting the book I took time off from writing my column and I missed it. But I didn't realize exactly how much I missed it until I started writing again.

I'm also writing a script for a new cable "dramedy." Can't say too much about it, but I will happily keep you posted."

Jude: "Ack! A short list! Whining, but MOM! Sniff, okay, I'll try. I mean they are all my babies! There are several novels published by Renaissance eBooks and Venus Press. And many short stories at Darker Pleasures, and Tit-Elation." (Editor's note: Jude had a HUGE list. To be fair to all, we shortened it. ...But she'll be back, right? *wink*)

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© Gracie


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