Recently I was asked by a science-oriented periodical to submit short story for their upcoming fiction supplement. I didn’t have anything suitable to send them, but I would nevertheless like to submit something, which means I have to write a story from scratch.
Break out the party favors.
As far as writing being a real job and all that, I think if you want it be a career you have to treat it like a career, which means working almost every day, even when you don’t feel like it. Working can be research or editing or sometimes writing a first draft–which of course means filling the dreaded blank page.
As far as writing being a real job and all that, I think if you want it be a career you have to treat it like a career, which means working almost every day, even when you don’t feel like it.
Writers hate the blank page.
Okay, maybe not all writers, and not all the time. When I’m about to sit down and write the first lines of a brand-new novel, there is a certain, special excitement that doesn’t come around very often. This excitement lasts a week or two, and then the blank page stops being special and once again becomes the bane of my existence. I could go on, or I could refer you to Stephen King’s Misery, which paints a far more thorough and colorful picture of first-draft writing than I could ever compose. And don’t get me wrong–I love writing–but since I love it I reserve the write to complain about the different facets of it, so that a) I can portray myself as a tortured artist, and b) this online journal can exist.
So, yes, you should work every day, because to sit around and wait for your muse is not the best way to make writing a career. But still, working every day doesn’t mean coming up with a new story idea every day. For a new idea your muse can come in quite handy. Like, you’re sitting there reading or watching a movie or having a discussion with someone and you think, Hey! I just thought of an idea!
But sometimes you need a story idea right away, and there’s no time to wait on your lazy muse. So another way to have an idea is to think about all the concepts you’ve thought about recently, that you’ve read about, that you’ve had discussions about; sit there and think about them and think about them and think about them and at some point your muse will weakly respond with something that could maybe be a story or maybe turn out to be flatulence. You know when something is flatulence, because it stinks. And don’t even think about lighting a match.
Update – February 23
Well, the first draft of the story is written now. At the moment it’s called “The Coolidge Effect,” and is about a science teacher trying to interest a group of high school students in science and logic. The most difficult part for me was trying to squeeze what I wanted to say in 4,000 words or less. So now I’ll get to the good part–editing–and see if I can shape it well enough to sell. I like the story, and hopefully the magazine will, too. Keep your fingers crossed.