What Are You Writing? 5


Right now it’s raining outside. Some kind of weather has been getting in the way for the past few months. You know what I mean? First it was horridly hot summer temps, then snow that would never end, and now the rains have come. We are all getting flooded.

Sometimes that’s how writer brain feels–or at least my brain. Flooded. With ideas, with to-do lists, with a whole lotta busy. And sometimes–no, all the time–those floods make it very challenging to sit down and just write. I find it impossible to put pen to paper (or fingertip to keyboard) and slosh through the stuff on my desk.

I never had writer’s block until recently. It’s more like stuck. Do you ever get stuck? Like when you have a paper due for school and it’s Sunday at 8 PM and your mom is giving you one of those “uh…what do you mean it’s due tomorrow?” looks?

The thing is: I have loads of ideas. It’s just that about 90 percent of them aren’t really working. At least not right now. That’s how it goes with being creative. You throw a whole bunch of ingredients into the air and see what lands in the soup pot. And even when you cook it up, it may taste lousy, so you need to find a bunch more stuff to add: sweet, sour, vanilla, chocolate, or whatever else will add the right flavor.

My soup lately: pretty bland. Grrrr.

But.

The most important answer to the question, “What are you writing?” is this one–and it works for published authors (like me, even when stuck) or kid authors (like you):

I’M WRITING. AND THAT’S WHAT MATTERS.

You may be writing lots and not even realize it’s all adding up. For example, I’m not doing any new series right now, but I did have the great luck to write an online story for the American Girl 2010 girl of the year, Lanie. ‘Twasn’t traditional fiction; more like e-mails and chat and letters. But that’s right up my alley. Check it out if you like. 

Right now, I’m writing every day: a few new series proposals, a middle grade novel I’m desperate to get done but have barely begun, and assorted other stuff. The life of working writers sometimes involves projects that aren’t all pretty in pink or loaded with bells and whistles or destined to land us on any bestseller list. But we must continue to write anyhoo. Case in point: a very good pal who always complained about having no money from writing kept at it for years and had numerous books published. But after all that time he was rewarded with a National Book Award nomination and just this year a Caldecott honor and Coretta Scott King award. I don’t know how much you know about awards, but those are like…the big, fat, WOW time. The most major you can get. I say he got that recognition because he stayed focused.

Yup, it’s hard to lead a creative life and write your way from day to day. It’s hard not to get distracted by hectic pace. But there can be surprises in store: awards, rewards, and most importantly–awesome readers. Or how about just the personal satisfaction you get just knowing that you showed up, you made something up, you just DID IT! I always tell kids when I teach workshops: keep a writing notebook (journal, scrapbook, scribble pad–whatever you call it). Just write.

And then, when I ask, “What are YOU writing?” you will answer plainly:

I’M WRITING. AND THAT’S WHAT MATTERS.

Feel free to drop me a note and tell me what it is you are writing. Inquiring minds wanna know. After all, we’re in this together, right? (Or should I say, write?)

p.s. By the way, I love your stories and poems. But oh gosh, please do not email me that 500 page novel about elephants with personality disorders or dwarf planets or your unflagging crush on Justin Bieber. My desk is pretty crowded right now. Thanks a bunch.


5 thoughts on “What Are You Writing?

  • BlackEssence

    Oh, I write quite a bit, but they are usually scripts for game machinima that I do! I even voice act in them! Seeking inspiration is hard, I do agree, and I am in a block as well! But, I am taking small steps to help me get focused and to stay interested!

  • She is NC

    I’m writing things that overflows my mind.
    HAHA. it’s a diary slash short story slash write-ups out of the blue.
    I used to like writing and I like writing still.
    It’s just that now, I’m compelled to do such things BECAUSE I’m a major of English and Arts, yaaa know, linguistics and literature.

    How I wish to get all of your books.
    Have not been to bookstores. *cries*

  • Jennifer

    HI! 😀

    I love writing. I used to write book diaries written by girls of different characters. And they’re actually not bad (if I may say so myself… ahem) because my friends like reading them. But lately I’ve been writing fanfiction. Which are stories based on books, TV shows, comics, games, manga/anime, whatever. (I wrote a fanfiction about From The Files Of Madison Finn!) Also, I have this huge Transformers book which I bring around all the time, and I make random lists and drawings and diary entries which make no sense because they’re like a spur of the moment random thing. So then I have stickers, song lyrics, stains, cut outs from magazines. 😀

    Wish I could read your whole FTFOMF series. The library only has like, 5 or 6 books out of the whole series. 🙁

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