Archive | March 2007

Setting the Mood (for Writing)


Procrastination is the writer’s biggest sin. You’ve heard all the excuses: I don’t have the time. I’ll write when I’m inspired. I’ll get around to it–soon. I’m not in the mood.

You get it. The whole banana. I’ve heard all those. Some of them I even said myself.

And so, finally, after your publisher calls for the nth time and your agent has given up on you, you sit down and start writing. You stare at your screen for a minute. Then an hour. Then five hours. Nothing. You’re not in the mood. End of story.

Unfortunately, that would also mean the end of your writing career. Surely you don’t want that?

The most difficult thing to be is when you’re starting to write, whether it be a novel, a feature, a short story, even just a post. It’s just too difficult to get started, period.

Each writer has his or her own way of setting the mood for writing. I find that, especially when I’m doing some writing at home, I can’t start if I’m not feeling comfortable. So usually a quick shower does the trick. I get into comfy clothes (not PJs, because my mind will think only of sleeping and not writing). Then I make coffee and put on some good music. I usually turn off my IM so I could focus without being disturbed.

And yes, I also have a mantra: If I don’t finish this, I’m toast.

That does it for me. How about you? How do you set the mood?

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Rewriting and Letting Go


Midwives by Chris Bohjalian tells the story of Sibyl, a midwife whose patient dies duringmidwives1.jpg childbirth, prompting her to perform a C-section to save the baby.

However, the heroism is not rewarded. Sibyl, instead, is sued by the state for voluntary manslaughter. The story is told from Sibyl’s daughter’s point of view. The narration is candid, raw, and surprisingly touching. I was surprised that the author was male who was writing about one of the oldest professions in the world.

In an interview with Amazon, Bohjalian tells of the pain of rewriting and why he doesn’t read his books after publication.

There certainly is a finality in a book, of not being able to change anything once it has been printed, unlike a Web post that can be updated or taken down. Books are forever.

Anything is better than wondering (yet again) whether a particular metaphor for the color of blood is sufficiently precise; whether an exchange between two of the characters is plausible; or whether the opening is powerful or the ending is satisfying or why anyone who doesn’t share my last name would ever bother to read my new book.

I get this way whenever I finish a novel.

The truth is, I have never reread any of my books once they are between hard covers. It’s too painful.

Read more in Chris Bohjalian’s AmazonConnect blog.