I’ve noticed a theme about some of the blogs I follow recently. They’re all about process. Actually, that’s a little too limiting. They’re about owning your process and why it works for you. Except I’ve noticed something else. All of these blogs have a b(sometimes the teeniest) note of…justification. Like, “This is my process and, and…it works for me, okay? Don’t judge because it’s mine and…and…it just is okay?”
(I promise to tie this into our monthly theme. Maybe. We’ll see how it goes.)
Anyway, on one hand this is not really surprising. We writers are sort of a “needy” lot, people constantly looking to justify ourselves. A friend of mine calls this IWS – Inherent Writerly Syndrome. It usually manifests as some kind of insecurity. “I can’t do this. Why did I ever think I can write? OMG, that sentence is awful. This is dreck. This book is the one that is going to reveal my inadequacy. I will lose my readers, my contract, my agent. All of it. I might as well get a job flipping burgers at a fast-food joint because it is OVER!”
This may or may not be prefaced by, “I know. I’ll revamp my writing process. That’s my problem. I’m not disciplined enough; I need to outline.” Or, “I’m too disciplined. I need to be more free form.”
(I’m getting to the theme – I think.)
So we ditch the process that has worked – however slowly and awkwardly – for the past X number of books and look for something new. Something that sparkles like the bright shiny that attracts a squirrel.
(See – I did it!)
Except, the new shiny isn’t better. We don’t write faster. We don’t necessarily write more beautiful prose, less in need of an editor. In fact we can sometimes ruin the thing that made our process work in the first place.
See, our old process isn’t less sparkly. It really does work. It’s just gotten a little dusty and dirty from IWS. Because that’s what IWS does. It throws up dirt and dust and whatnot that disguises all that is sparkly in our writerly lives. And because we are too close, we despair. We seek the new, the shiny. And ignore what is shiny right in front of us – if we would only dust it off.
So today, right here, I’m issuing a challenge to all writers. You are sparkly. Your process, your prose – it is. You’re being sabotaged by IWS. And the only way to defeat IWS is to face it head on and reveal it for the cowardly slacker that it is. “I am a writer. I sparkle.” Not I can sparkle. “Can” implies that sparkling is something you aspire to. No, my friends – we do sparkle! Yeah, some of those early drafts sparkle a little less. So what? Sparkling is not something to aspire to, it is something we do, something we are, and something that will only get brighter with each successive draft.
I challenge you to banish IWS to it’s drab, dusty corner. WE ARE WRITERS, SEE US SPARKLE! Together, we can defeat IWS – or at least send it on a protracted vacation.
(And I told you I’d get to the theme – eventually.)