Archive for September 2nd, 2008

Writing Waiters

There was an article that Wil Wheaton had referenced (in a post that I have already referenced before)… I had missed it when I read the first Wheaton post, but when he mentioned it again in his next post (and I actually saw it), I decided to take note…

Despite it taking a couple of days for me to get a chance to read it (holiday travels, and being away from a computer for a few days), the blog post that was referenced was actually quite good.

Waiterrant.net is written by someone who actually has a “day job” as a waiter. And he has written a book about some of his experiences. The post in question talks about the difference between blogging and writing a book. I believe the moral in his post is accurate – blogging and book writing are two different entities, and have to be juggled and handled differently.

One point that he makes is:
“I also discovered another truism — you can’t write a book and maintain a blog at the same time. If you try, one or the other is going to suffer — usually both. That was a lesson I had to learn the hard way.”

That is a very good point, and one that can also be taken with salt. Directly following the above statement, he discloses: “When I started my book I used the mornings to write about being a waiter, worked nights as a server in a restaurant, then spent the wee hours blogging about what happened during my shift. That would drive anybody nuts.”

Which I relate over to “priorities”. He goes on to say that he let blog posts slide while working on the book. I don’t know the specific timetable he was working in – the specific chunks of time spent each day on the book, his regular job and his blog posts. With that being said, there are several other writers – granted, they are “professional” writers – that do both (maintain a blog AND manage to write other stuff).

But it all goes back to priorities… if you want to write, you will figure out a way to make it work (self, pay attention here!). As a reader, I like being able to go to a blog and see something new (actually, it gets frustrating when someone doesn’t do an update, at least every couple of days – or at least go by a schedule “I’ll make new posts on X”). As a writer, though, I fully understand the “I can’t do it all right now” dilema (and still struggle with it, almost daily – hey, I’m human!), and can agree with his ultimate decision.

For focused, sustained creative output, it is sometimes best to go “off-grid” for a while. Based on his material (and the fact that it’s a life I can closely relate to), I plan on looking over his blog for a bit, and maybe get around to reading his book. When I do, I’ll probably be off-grid myself for a while…

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More Words on Words…

Again, some more “Words From Wil”… a post that he was inspired to write, based on a comment/question he got for his earlier post (previously referenced here)…

It’s a good, short piece of writerly advice… and he titles it “Five Simple Ways to Just Keep Writing”. After reading it (and re-reading it, several times), the advice does make sense. Actually, and even Wil admits, it’s not really earth-shattering advice. I have read a lot of other authors make some of the same statements (especially #4).

4. Don’t show your work to anyone until the first draft is done. Don’t even excerpt little bits and put them on your blog. I put about 30 words from House of Cards online, and I lost all of my momentum as a result. I’m not sure why this happens, but it really sucks when it does.” (From Wil Wheaton’s “Five Ways” post)

And, from my own experience, depending on the work, it is the same for me. A short work, it might be okay with (for me)… Longer works, though, get the life force sucked out, like a Banshee aging a character 10 years, or a Nymph killing a character that fails a saving throw (don’t get the jokes? Ask a gamer! :o)

I remember a trilogy that I had pretty much outlined the core story elements (it was a fantasy trilogy, with some similar elements of the Realms “Avatar” Trilogy – like, four main characters in a group, all good friends, until the group is fractured by one character’s choice to be self-serving, but otherwise, actually, completely different.) I showed it to a couple of people and asked some opinions, but that was as far as it got.

I will counter/add to the statement (#4) though, with this:
Sharing is a very subjective act, and very personal. If you are involved with a group of like-minded people – writerly types that want to improve/tell the best story they can tell – and it is an understood, mutual arrangement to review Works-in-Progress, then by all means: share and ask for feedback.

However, don’t get hung up on it! If you are “workshopping” two chapters that you have written for a book, and you have not finished the book, smile, nod, and make notes on the feedback (unless they give you some good, written feedback), but focus more on finishing the work than making changes to what you have already written. Finish first, revise later!

Speaking of finishing… I have a story that I am working on, due next week, that I need to get back to…

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