15 Habits of Great Writers: Day 6 – Steal

June 28, 2012 stephhwilliams 0 Comments

Today I read a couple of things that have been stirring in my brain.

The first seems directly related to what Jeff talks about for Day 6 of the Great Writers Series – Steal. He talks about how writers shouldn’t be scared to borrow ideas – to ‘steal’ something to get inspired. Now, of course, he means to give credit where it is due … he just means that it’s okay to not be 100% original all the time.

So I was reading an interview with playwright Tom Stoppard, writer of quite a few plays including Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (my very favorite), by The Paris Review. Stoppard seems to have a niche for adaptaptions. When asked why he doesn’t write an original filmscript, Stoppard said “Because I don’t have any original ideas to spare.” How funny. Stoppard has made a career, and a successful one at that, out of taking the works of others and twisting and turning and flipping and tossing them into something that then is uniquely his own. Doing so doesn’t make him any less of a writer, and some (including me) even call him genius.

This is an example of what Jeff is talking about. And I’ve talked about it before. That we are influenced by everything we read, hear, watch – particularly writers – and what influences us will necessarily come through in what we create. I shouldn’t be afraid to let my influences show; instead, I should embrace them, baring proud witness to those who have inspired me to create more. ‘Course, I’ve also talked about how there aren’t any new ideas anymore and that everybody is just copying everybody else … but I believe that’s a whole other animal.

The other thing I read today was a post on laziness and/or procrastination (W.I.P. Wednesday: Laziness) on a blog called It’s a Hardcover Life. The blogger, who has a current work-in-progress novel that she’s been writing, uses some funny little graphics like the one below to slap herself around for not writing much lately.

From It’s a Hardcover Life, June 27, 2012

She also has a counter on her blog that shows she’s written 76,000 of her 85,000 word goal. So at first I was thinking, “Man, I wouldn’t be beating myself up for that.” But then it occurred to me that getting so far in and losing momentum must feel at least a hundred times worse than I feel right now.

See, yesterday, I took a day off. A day off from the series. A day off from the blog. A day off from my very own WIP. I’d been doing so well and really felt as though I was building the momentum Jeff talked about in Day 5. And then I took a day off. Granted, it was for a good reason – my baby boy’s birthday – but now I’m paying the price. Today, I have had such a hard time putting words to paper, feeling exhausted in body and mind. And I’m only a few days in and nowhere near the 76,000 words @HardCoverLife has written. It seems as though missing one day has left me lolling, lingering, and lollygagging. I’ve even been thinking up excuses in my head like: “Well, I’m just so tired.” “VBS is wearing me out this week.” “The kids make it so hard to write.” “If I could just take a nap ….” “Maybe I’ll start fresh next week.” And, well, let’s face it, a bunch of other HOGWASH.

I need goals. Maybe that’s what I’ll “steal” today – @HardCoverLife’s idea of a WIP Counter – and have a goal for a  total number of words or maybe a certain number of words each day. I’ve said before, on a totally unrelated subject, that it’s good to have goals. So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll set some goals. Yep, first thing tomorrow, I’ll set a goal…

From It’s a Hardcover Life, June 27, 2012

Just kidding, I’ll do it now. I currently have about 1500 words written, roughly 500 a day from Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Now, I know I can do better than that … I mean, after all, I’m not counting all the writing I’m doing here on the blog. BUT I don’t want to start out with some outrageous goal that I’m killing myself to meet or setting myself up for failure. So, my goal for the rest of this week is going to be at least 500 words a day; but beginning on Saturday, I’m bumping that up to 1,000. Then, I’ll do gradual jumps until I’m finished.  BECAUSE I WILL FINISH. Not just someday. But someday really soon.

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