Saturday, January 13, 2018

What does #amwriting mean for some of us? by J L Wilson

I'm sure you've seen the #amwriting hashtag here and there. It's meant to show that hey, authors are making progress on whatever writing project we're doing.

I always find myself reluctant to start a big writing project, simply because I know it means that my brain will no longer be my own for months. Seriously. I will have voices in my head, I'll fall asleep and wake up thinking "what would she say to him at this point?" and I will be working feverishly to meet a deadline I've imposed on myself.

I will think, eat, drink, and sleep these characters and this plot for at least 6 months (4 months for some of my smaller books). My life will, in essence, not be my own. It will be shared with them for every waking moment. I will no longer have time for "relaxation" like just watching TV (without thinking how I can use a scene in one of my books), going to movies (ditto), shopping (wondering how my main character would act if she saw shoes like that), and so on.

Does it sound like a grind? It feels like it sometimes. The series I'm working on is somewhat soul-consuming in the sense I've been with these characters for years and I've really put them through hell and back. I've got 2 books to go to finish this series, although I suspect I'll end up doing a bunch of rewrites before I actually get around to publishing it.

For me, #amwriting means I'm in the zone. I'm mostly somewhere else most of the time, not quite here and mostly there, living in my head and at my keyboard, working out plot points and figuring how to get my characters from point A to point B. Don't get me wrong: it's what I do. I love doing it and wouldn't change it for the world. I'm just a little preoccupied for the next 6 months or so. You may need to knock loudly for me to hear you.

J L
(jayellwilson.com)

18 comments:

Margo Hoornstra said...

Love it - my brain will no longer be my own for months. That’s kind of how it goes with #amwriting.

Brenda Whiteside said...

I so understand, JL. And when I'm not there because of other life commitments, I want to be there. We are weird people, we authors.

Rolynn Anderson said...

This is a point where I have to say to myself:' Rolynn it's okay you don't have voices in your head.' I've always been jealous of you full-headed authors. To me it would be easier to write if the characters were chit-chatting in my brain, cluing me into personalities, conflicts and plot points. Normally I sit down at the computer and that's where the action starts...and ends. I might think of research questions and conflicts when I dry my hair, but for the most part, I've compartmentalized writing and my other life pursuits. #amwriting, #amgolfing, #travel, #women'smarch, #landscaping, #familyreunion...you get the drift.

Brenda Whiteside said...

That's a better way, Rolynn! I wouldn't have the guilt when I didn't write down what they're telling me. Or the guilt when I only half-listen to FDW or my mom. It's like having half my brain in whatever I'm doing...and that is not a good way to live. LOL

Diane Burton said...

Mine talk to me at night when I'm trying to go to sleep or when I wake up in the middle of the night. Sheesh. I should get up and write when this happens. Yet, I don't. Usually. Good definition of #amwriting

Rolynn Anderson said...

Oh, I get it. In real conversation, you guys are nodding and saying uh-huh in all the right places but you're only listening to fictional folk chatting in your heads. Wow!

Betsy Ashton said...

Agree, totally. Characters take over my brain, even the serial killer. Love giving up my freedom to the dominant voices.

Andrea Downing said...

It's so reassuring to hear other authors talking about the voices in their heads! I, like others, can be in tears at what they're saying/doing, or react to other emotions. In fact, I'm sure there's one or two that have sent me into an AFib attack. I once got out of bed seven times to write down what they were saying.

Margo Hoornstra said...

And through it all, each one of us is perfectly normal. That, it seems, is the greatest gift.

Christine DePetrillo said...

I walk around my house mumbling to myself... or at least that's what it looks like. Really I'm having full conversations with my characters. Every once in a while, I'll realize something important that needs to happen in my writing and I'll shout something random like, "If she's chasing the dog, he could bump into her!" Then my husband will say, "What?" And I'll not answer because I'm already grabbing the closest scrap of paper to jot down this pivotal plot point. My husband will then say, "Oh, you're writing." Yes, dear. Yes, I am.

Jannine Gallant said...

No voices. When I sit down to write, I figure it out then. It's kind of like reading a book since I'm discovering what will happen next as I type. I do think about problem spots and broad concepts when I'm out walking the dog in the woods. But this is a conscious effort on my part. Hmmm...sounds like I'm not a "real" writer since I'm not obsessed--or possessed! LOL To me, #amwriting means I'm at work at my computer.

RE Mullins said...

I once said I heard my characters speaking inside my head and my friends looked at me like I was nuts.

Leah St. James said...

I'm with Rolynn and Jannine, although I do "write" in my sleep. I dream narrative. If any images accompany them, I rarely remember! When I sit down at my laptop, that's when they start "talking."

J L Wilson said...

I do compartmentalize to some extent, but in the back of my mind, there's always a little voice thinking "I need to make sure to include X in this scene because I think I'm overlooking him..." or something like that. I find it oddly reassuring when I have the voices and I feel somewhat lost when I don't.

Vonnie Davis said...

One of the commenters remarked "and yet we're all normal." I spewed coffee. Speak for yourself. LOL My kids would tell you differently. Calvin, having written, understands OHalthough he will tell me every so often he feels neglected. Then I know to slack back for a few days. My characters or story will wake me. I wake with a page of written text in front of me and think, "Oh dear, that paragraph reads horrible! What page is this?" Or my characters will play out a scene in a dream over and over and over until one of them turns to me and says, "See how silly this is? I would never behave like this. You need to do a rewrite."
OH YEAH, I BE NORMAL...

Rolynn Anderson said...

Laughing at you...with you...Vonnie! So much of 'what happens' to a writer occurs in the brain...not action TV, that's for sure. Someone was talking about a film about a writer-she complained we didn't see much of this writer's life. Lots of camera on a writer writing-boring. If only the camera could capture what was happening in an author's head. Now that would make action-packed scenes!

Jennifer Wilck said...

Perfect description of the process!

Alicia Dean said...

Ha, great post. Well said! I'm sorry your brain will not be your own, but I DO love reading the results of your brain kidnapping. :) Keep those great books coming.