Writers are often strange people. F Scott Fitzgerald ascribed it to the fact that they are many people trying to be one person. Most of us bask in the weirdness and wear it like a badge of honor. In a world that says, “It is what it is”, the writer’s job is to ask “What if everything isn’t as it seems? What if the strangest thing I can imagine is the real truth?
I was asked recently, “How do you know what the next sentence is supposed to say”. It’s a thought-provoking question. So, of course, here we are thinking about it.
I can only speak for myself. Most of the time, I have characters who tell me what comes next. It helps that these characters are a little bit me, except when Ed goes all Positively 4th Street (Search it on YouTube) on me. I sometimes press on without them and risk them telling me that I got it all wrong.
I rarely break a sweat from my writing exertions. However, there have been times when I refused to stop writing long enough to get up and turn the fan on. I’m not a multi-tasker, I’m a get lost in what I’m doing type. That has both good points and bad points.
The good part is that when I’m really lost in the writing, I’m living in the story. The bad part is that when I’m really lost in the writing, it looks like I’m not doing anything. Some newer model writers come with a switch that allows them to shut the flow on and off.
I’m old. Nothing works like it used to and I didn’t have one of those switches to begin with. If the power gets interrupted, there’s no switch to flip and start it back up. The chances of what I was working on being safely stored in remote memory for future use grows less likely every day.
My lack of a switch is not discouraging to me. My years in the ministry prepared me for writing. Prayer and sermon prep also look like doing nothing. I’m not complaining. It’s something a writer learns to deal with or uses as an excuse not to write. I’ve done both.
I do have a tell that signals when the writing is not going well—I clean. Now, I’m not saying for certain that was ever intentionally exploited, but…