More on process and getting started

redredshoes has made the very good point that one thinks about process differently when one is working on getting started writing and when one’s been doing it a while (and probably at various stages in between, too). Others have made the point that NaMoWriMo is, essentially, a way of overcoming procrastination and kick starting one’s writing.

So I’ve been thinking back to when I first decided to take my writing seriously, and have realized the way my process worked, writing a novel in a month wouldn’t have helped me then either–rather, it would have sent me running away to bury my head in the sand, because in my particular case, writing at all didn’t scare me–I had notebooks full of lyrical opening scenes; it was writing an entire novel that scared me. If I’d had to write that entire novel in a month, I’m not sure that would have worked.

What did work, for me, was a bit of advice Marion Zimmer Bradley gave me, on a photocopied sheet entitled “advice to new writers,” when I first sent away for guidelines to her Darkover anthologies, something like 15 years ago.

What she pointed out was: if you write a page a day, at the end of a year you have a novel.

For my process, personally, that was what I needed to hear. I knew I could write a page a day. So my starting writing commitment became: every day I will write something. A line, a page, whatever I can. And I’ll trust from there, I’ll get to publishable stories and novels somehow.

It worked: both because single pages do add up to novels eventually, and because the longer I wrote, the greater my endurance became, until I was writing four or eight pages at a sitting, instead of one or two.

So I’m throwing this out there, in case it’s useful for anyone else’s process, too.

The cool thing? That Darkover anthology I sent for guidelines to became my first sale. 🙂

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