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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Writing vs. Talking About Writing

I love the writers communities I belong to: the Compuserve forums, Magical Words, my beta group, the #wipmadness group on Twitter, and the larger #amwriting Twitter community, too. And of course, my TOEM* in-person writing group. I love it because we can chat about different writing issues, celebrate and commiserate, check in with goals, and just plain connect with kindred spirits.

But lately, I've been more aware of how much of my limited writing time I am devoting to actual writing (currently, this includes editing), as opposed to just talking about writing. It can be so joyful to share with other writers, because they *get* what you're talking about, and if you're a storyteller, sharing with others is practically instinctive. But how much time am I spending *talking* about my novel, and how much time am I actually writing it?

I'm not just referring to the pitfall of talking a story to death, where you spend so much time talking about an idea or a story you're working on that you lose the momentum, the energy to work on the story. I'm talking about spending time talking about the craft with other writers, to the point where most "writing time" ends up going to the discussion, instead of to the actual writing (or editing). It feels like going to the gym and standing around chatting, rather than working out which is what you're supposed to be there to do. (Or even like having extended conversations with another person on the treadmill or elliptical. Seriously, if you can talk that much, how much of a workout are you actually getting?)

This is in no way a complaint about writers being social with one another. This could just be me, too. All I'm saying is, as much as I love and am grateful for all of the groups I participate in and the wonderful people I've met because of it, I personally need to recognize when I'm spending way more time talking about writing than actually writing itself.

The irony that this inspired a blog post, which also robs me of "actual" writing time, is not lost on me. But I've noticed that I'm getting itchy about finishing the rewrites on SIGN OF THE STAR, and I think this is worthy of sharing. So, back to work.

* TOEM = The Other Eleven Months. We're an offshoot of the Greater Vancouver NaNoWriMo community, and we meet year-round. I used to refer to it as O11M, but that was such a mouthful, and thanks to member Rob H., I realize that this acronym is *much* more appropriate.


  1. I agree with you here! I'm spending a ton of time chatting about process and not enough [g] Trying to do less of it, but this month's X is seriously putting me to task, and talking about it is part of the X, so...

    I'm still learning to juggle it all, I guess. [g]

  2. Baha, Jillybean. I keep forgetting to participate in the X challenges. Still don't quite know what they entail.

    Talking about process definitely helps, but just like going to the gym and not using the equipment, it can only help so much.

  3. There's a very real danger in this 'Catch 22' phenomenon, isn't there? I'm told I'm a writer if I write, but nobody pointed out *what* it is I need to be writing. LOL! I've had to find a balance, setting a specific time limit for my online conversations. Otherwise the whole effort will become self-defeating. The goal of being a published author requires the writing of a publishable manuscript!

    Happy (manuscript) writing. :)

  4. No joke - finding quality time unplugged to write is getting harder and harder. Well said. By the way, I just awarded you the Liebster award. =) Congrats!

  5. Careanne, I couldn't agree more. Finding the time balance can be hard, but at least by recognizing it, I can try to lesson the time spent online.

    Girl Parker - Thanks! I think it's not so much about *finding* the time, it's about *making* the time. It can be done. Really. *runs to check twitter* Honest.

  6. Walk the talk.
    Best of luck with your writing.I am new to your blog .Follow each other .

  7. Off subject, but wonder if you have found your roomie for the SiWC yet. I posted on Kathy's blog a couple of days ago. You can message me at @jloakley or at timelinelady (at)gmail (dot) com