“My one saving grace as a writer is that, if I’m having trouble with the novel I’m writing, I write something else, a poem or a short story. I try to avoid writer’s block by always writing something.” ~Jess Walter
That’s me in a nutshell. When someone asks me, “What are you writing?” I can honestly tell them something new every day, at least these days, because while I have two novels that are pretty far along, I am also writing so much else. I take the craft of writing seriously, meaning that I spend as much energy on a one sentence character profile as I do on what I hope is the end to the great American novel I’m currently working on.
And I’ve never had writer’s block (knock on wood).
But where do I do all of this writing? On my computer I’ve christened the “Black Lab,” after one of my favorite bands. I’m often listening to them while I write so it’s also fitting that it is labeled as such. Someone asked me the other day why my handwriting is so atrocious, and I’ll admit that my handwriting wasn’t ever a gem, but I just don’t do enough straight “writing” anymore to keep up any pretense of being able to put pen to paper. And yes, I’m old school about a lot of things, but when it comes to writing, whatever works is my mantra.
So I type everything, and I back up everything (usually multiple ways and in multiple locations). I learned the hard way that sometimes words get lost in the ether when there aren’t enough failsafes, so I have several flash drives, and several external hard drives, and a lovely space in something called a cloud where I store and re-store my writings. I even built my own laptop using the Dell site to maximize hard drive space on the unit itself. Yeah, I’m taking no chances this time.
Often, though, I’m not at home to write when I get inspired spontaneously throughout the course of the day, so I use my notes app on my phone to jot down random thoughts as they come to me. Quite often the genesis of a work takes hold there and germinates until later when I get home it’s in full bloom, ready to be transferred to Microsoft Word and possibly eventually published.
But even if it never gets published I never throw out anything that I write. It doesn’t matter if it began as a scribble on a napkin, as two words in my notes app on my phone, or as a full piece that I took something from and created around that. It all stays because I never know when something I wrote 20 years ago might be finally ready to continue with or to be changed so it fits a new paradigm. Those are my favorite times, when I can go back and resurrect something I wrote ages ago that I deemed unworthy then, to bring it back to life, to new life.
This is where I create, where it all comes together. In fact, if you could see me while I type my stories, my poems, my novels, my blog entries, and anything else I write, you would see the unbridled joy on my face from bringing something to life that previously didn’t exist, from fashioning something out of nothing. It’s the most incredible feeling in the entire world, like when a bike rider beats her own personal record, or when a gamer finally wins the game that has been haunting him for months.
And that happens every single time I write, which is why I keep writing. Every day, in every way.