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[process] Practice, and psychotic persistence - Lakeshore
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Jay Lake
Date: 2009-08-04 04:49
Subject: [process] Practice, and psychotic persistence
Security: Public
Tags:calendula, process, writing
calendula_witch has a very good post from a few days ago, concerning practice. Go read it.

Her post is an example of synchronicity, because a few days later, The Boston Globe published this article on grit that talks about much the same thing.

Both of which in turn remind me of my own theory of "psychotic persistence" [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]. (I mentioned this connection recently in Link Salad.)

No matter how you cut it, this writing game is all about doing it, and doing it more. That's why all the writing advice I have ever given boils down to "write more". In my case, I write more by watching tv not at all, DVDs/videos very little, movies rarely, gaming never, etc. etc. etc. I've taken a lot of things I enjoy out of my life in order to do something I enjoy even more — writing, and having written. It's a sacrifice I've made, and joyfully so. (In case you missed it, scalzi has a different take on those choices here, btw.)

And I don't think anyone can accuse me of being a dry stick. I have a lot of fun, and I basically do what I want in life. But I got to this point by years and years of grit, practice and psychotic persistence.

What's your practice?


Originally published at jlake.com.

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Kenneth Mark Hoover
User: kmarkhoover
Date: 2009-08-04 13:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Aside from the occasional movie on TCM, a Cubs game or maybe some news here and there I watch almost no television week by week. So I'm never up on things when people are talking about American Idol or the Bachelor or whatever. Maybe two or three DVDs a month, but even then I just don't watch anything, usually something classic. And I haven't played a computer game in years, though I do like some of them.

So I guess I'm kind of in the same boat. It's all about writing, 24/7. I don't do or think about much else, I'm afraid.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-08-04 13:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I know what you mean. A lot of people seem to believe I live in some kind of fur-lined tiki pit with dancing girls, but in fact, I'm *very* boring at home. Because all I do is write...
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calendula_witch: arms
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2009-08-04 16:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:arms
Er, I would disagree. You're not at all boring at home. ;-)

Great article on grit though!
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-08-04 17:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Great post on practice!
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Grant Kruger
User: thirdworld
Date: 2009-08-04 17:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've seen you getting writing in at cons. Your dedication and production are immense.
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kellymccullough
User: kellymccullough
Date: 2009-08-05 01:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is one of the reasons why I blog very little about my personal life on a day to day basis. Nobody really wants to read: Got up. Exercised and did research. Wrote. Spent time with my wife. Read. Went to sleep. over and over and over again.

And in answer to the bigger question, I'm much more like you than Scalzi in what I've cut out of my life to make writing a working proposition.
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spencimusprime
User: spencimusprime
Date: 2009-08-04 15:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I feel ya. I think that when you write a lot your "story sense tingles," so to speak and use Spider-Man terms. Problems in a story, weird character motivations, and all those things that would normally trip you up aren't as hard because you're so used to making story out of it.

That said, you do have the downside of trying to publish the short stories you're cranking out every two weeks, or figuring out how to market a novel a year. But even trunk stuff is good for the writer brain.

Also, there's family, which you do pretty well, don't forget.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-08-04 17:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you, btw.
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Grant Kruger
User: thirdworld
Date: 2009-08-04 17:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm totally going to take this thread to heart.
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Lawrence M. Schoen
User: klingonguy
Date: 2009-08-05 02:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This year it seems my practice involves injuring myself, over and over again. Seriously, I think I should try something new.
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manmela
User: manmela
Date: 2009-08-05 05:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I need to get a bit more structured in my writing as at the moment it's all a bit erratic. But now I've freed myself of some commitments (my psychotic persistence of the last 10 years) to focus on the writing, it's just a case of knuckling down in those free times. I'll have word targets once I return from holiday.

I've actually found that I work best when I mix my time, read a chapter, game a little, write another 300 or so words. Rinse and repeat. Either that or take myself off to the library - unfiortunately they never seem to be open when I have time to write.

With regards to practise, I find I love to play with trope (trying to turn some tropes on their head, mix trope with deep characterisation to give it new depth, or at least develop them in some way) and as a result, it's possible that the eventual story doesn't *quite* end up original enough. It's a dangerous knife-edge I like to play on. But sometimes ideas work, sometimes they don't. I used to worry about this, shove ideas at the forefront of my mind to the side to try and mine the more original but (for me) creatively stale stories. However now, I just write the idea at the front of my head and if that ends up trite and trope ridden, so be it... at least I had fun writing it. I figure eventually, under the law of averages, that one day I'll have to turn up something decent.

It's tough because Fantasy is definitely going in an opposite direction to me at the moment. I tell myself this is good. I'm not being a sheep. But it does cause a lot of anxiety, especially as a newbie fiction writer. I definitely feel the external pull towards horror and fantasy-lite New Weird fantasy as the type of stuff I *should* be writing. Internally though, I just want to tell a really kick-ass elf story.
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The Green Knight: Determination
User: green_knight
Date: 2009-08-05 07:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Determination
Practice makes perfect. Unfortunately, it only makes perfect the thing you are practicing - so if you're writing badly plotted novels with sloppy omniscient viewpoint and cardboard characters, practicing more will only get you more of them.

The persistence, I think, lies in the ability to not only do the mechanical part of the work, but to examine it, learn new skills, take in outside criticism/suggestions, and strive to make everything better, even the joints that nobody sees at the back of the drawer.

And it lies in not just doing the 80% of the work that come easy to you - however good you are at it - but to work on the rest until you've improved your game. And, of course, if you want to be a professional, you need to send it out.
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