What Real Writers Say

Sarra Manning, [and yes, that is how she spells it] an author of eleven YA books who has recently published her first adult novel, was interviewed in the Sunday Supplements this week on the subect of writing a novel. What she had to say about the craft was interesting. I paraphrase here as the article is too long to include everything.

SM-There is no such thing as writer's block
She describes it as self doubt, nerves or sheer can't-be-botheredness, and advises writers to simply type through the pain.

ME - Tried that – and I end up with three thousand words of gibberish that gets edited out in the next session. As for the lazy aspect – well of course I am, or I wouldn’t spend my life on the sofa at my laptop – I’d have a paying job!

SM-Your house will become immaculate:
Ms Manning contends she uses housework as a diversionary tactic to solving the plot crisis in a chapter.

ME -
Nope – I simply switch to blogging, forums, critique group or playing ‘Pharaoh’ and pretend the dust bunnies are no bigger than they were yesterday.

SM-Everyone will tell you about Trollop's work ethic:

That he wrote for three hours a day and if he finished a book with five minutes to spare he'd start the next one. People will trot out this anecdote and criticise your less industrious ways - but that Trollop didn't have the distractions of Facebook!

ME -
See item above.....

SM - You’ll put on weight:

Because writing is solitary and sedentary occupation.

ME -
Tell me about it!

SM - Writers’ groups are an unnecessary evil:

Editors warn their clients to stay away from them and to resist showing your work to anyone until it’s finished. E.g. If you are writing chick-lit, why would it matter if a sixty year old man who has papered his flat with rejection slips has a major problem with your plot?

ME -
I can see the point in that – but I wouldn’t be without my critique group. When I submit the chapter I have agonised over for days as to whether the protagonist’s love crisis was credible or not, they come back and ask, ‘Didn’t she have green eyes in the last chapter?’

SM - Writing the book is the easy part:

The really hard stuff like finding an agent, getting a deal and obsessing over your Amazon sales rating - is tougher.

ME -
There isn’t an author I know who wouldn’t agree with that!


Writer's block = self-doubt... Well, yeah, I'll buy that. I'm there.

Housework as a diversionary tactic? Only in the winter. Right now it's yardwork and I must say my garden never looked better. Just don't ask me how my book revisions are coming along.

Work ethic? What's that? Facebook - hey, I just *had* to post pictures of the track meet to share.

Weight? Nope, I'm good. My husband is on an exercise kick lately and drags me along. That's another diversion.

Writer's groups? Seriously, who else understands me like they do? And I suppose if I had a multi-book deal already, *then* I could say they're not necessay because my editor would fix all my book's glitches.

Writing is the easy part? Yeah, anybody can write. It takes talent, persistence and luck to get the rest.

Good entry, Anita. I'm going outside now to pull weeds and think about my next story.
Anita Davison said…
Thanks for the comment, Gemi

This was a generic article from a writer to show to non writers what her life is like.

It was so in tune with most of the things we already know and talk about all the time, I couldn't resist adding my own view.
Augustina Peach said…
I'd have to agree with SM on the housework thing. Just this afternoon, I've been ironing and writing Chapter 8. I iron a sleeve as I think of what to say next, rush to the computer and type furiously until I'm out of ideas, then go back to iron the other sleeve. :D
Jen Black said…
Almost anything can be a diversion if you let/want it - with me, right now, it's tennis at Roland Garros. Then it'll be Queens, then Wimbledon. What hope has my wip? After that I'm on holiday and out of reach of e-mail, internet and almost every distraction known to woman, so I suppose it's swings and roundabouts...
Jen - PS Like the new style blog!
I agree with Sarra, there's no such thing as writer's block. Usually if you can't go forward, then go back and work out where it went wrong.
Dawna said…
When I have writer's block, I surf the net for pictures of incredibly hot guys who are dressed up like Vikings.

Unlike housework, this is one diversionary tactic that I just LUV!!!
Jane Smith said…
My response, to all of those questions, would be chocolate. No wonder I'm still struggling in relative obscurity: I need more angst and attitude.

Yours is a lovely blog, and I'm thrilled that you link to mine. Thank you!

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