Resisting the Itch

A writer writes.

That manta has been drilled into my head since the moment I decided to embrace my desire to put pen to page.   There is a societal expectation that if you have the audacity to call yourself a writer, you must produce proof of such a claim.  I’ve always taken this to heart.

I think, therefore I am.  – Rene Descartes

I write, therefore I am a writer.

It’s a mindset that is very hard for me to reconcile at the moment.  If you read my posts, you will remember that at the beginning of the year I made the decision to shelve my work in progress.  Recently, I’ve felt the magnetic pull of characters that will not be ignored.  In an effort to stave off the voices, and because I believe in the essence of this story, I decided to begin again.

Back to the drawing board.

To start over.

From scratch.

As new ideas begin to take root, grow, and blossom, I am overwhelmed with the desire to write.  Witty dialogue mingles with vibrant action in scenes that swirl around my brain, begging for an outlet.  It is the order of things.  In the past, I’ve been very much a fly by the seat of your pants writer.  As the voices grew louder, the scenes more vivid, the siren’s call of the keyboard more desperate, I inevitably gave into the temptation to write, mindless of the consequences.

Herein lies the reason my first stab at Retribution went down in glorious, Technicolor flames.  I gave into the voices and lost sight of the big picture.  I planned poorly – or rather – I didn’t plan at all.

This time it will be different.  It must be.  I took an oath to myself that I would resist the itch to write until I had a thorough, well-planned outline.   It was a promise that fell freely from my lips.  It sounded so easy, such an attainable goal.

I was wrong, as I am so often lately.  It is very hard to resist the itch to write, especially when you have set such boundaries.  It is as if my rebellious self is testing the limits of my resolve by spitting in the eye of my iron will.

But, my iron will is a determined beast.  Resist I will.

For now, anyway.


Author: Peggy Isaacs

This is me. Is that you?

7 thoughts on “Resisting the Itch”

  1. I’ve been pondering this. Different writers have different processes. Some writers have varying processes from book to book, story to story. I sure do.

    So anything that is “absolute” (other than, a writer writers, however you want to interpret it) is problematical.

    If this is working for you now, stick to it.

    In my case, when the itch is there, I write. When it isn’t, I plan, plot, research until I trigger the itch again.

    The last quarter million words I wrote, however, I wrote daily, setting a minimum number of words. I considered “daily” to be 5 out of 7 days, but I generally wrote 7 because it became the process that worked and kept me totally in the story.

  2. I think this is a very familiar dilemma to any writer… It can be very hard to ignore those itches, especially when they’re so good that you’re afraid you’ll either forget them when the time comes to actually write or you won’t be able to reproduce anything as good.

    I must confess, I usually give in to these itches of inspiration and write them down in the notebook I have dedicated to my story. At most, they’re maybe two or three pages of dialogue/exposition, but at least it’s there and I can forget about it and move on. If I end up actually using it when the time comes, then great; if not, then… well, whatever, you know?

    Good luck with your novel and I hope it all goes well on your end 🙂

    1. You are, of course, welcome to borrow it. Like all things with writing, sometimes, it just works. Gods, if only I could be so witty all the time. :p

      Oh, and here in the cult, we hold meetings Wednesday and Sunday and another secret day of the week that you have to figure out 🙂 BYOWD (Bring your own writing device)

  3. I think it’s possible to take the mantra of “A writer writes” too literally. It’s not really quite so absolute (says the person who isn’t happy if she isn’t furiously writing at NaNo pace :)). I would argue that a writer works on writing at all times, in all aspects. Planning should be considered part of writing as much as editing, and therefor count as writing, so long as one eventually progresses from planning to writing. They should not be divorced from each other, as they go hand in hand. Planning should enable and encourage writing, even as editing polishes and improves it.

    But I know all about that itch to get started once you get into the more vivid parts of planning. I wrestle with that every time. It’s usually when I give in just a little and start outlining, which for me is telling the shell of the story, the bare melody, without all the grace notes and flourishes. It’s usually enough to let me finish the planning before I absolutely must write. 🙂

    1. I completely understand what you are saying. I think perhaps I feel like I’m not accomplishing any “writing” because I’ve long resisted this hard core planning process. I’m not actively writing, so I do not feel productive in my usual sense. I know I have to resist the urge to just sit down and start writing scenes – it’s for the best, but good grief, it’s hard.

      You’ve made me feel better about what I’m doing.

      1. Yay, I like accomplishing my goal. And believe me, in some respects, I’m still struggling with that paradigm shift, the idea that there are things related to writing that should be called writing, but don’t involve writing a draft. I’m a recent convert to the cult of the planner myself, so I understand the difficulty. I’ve had to change the language I use to describe the process I engage in, but thats helped some. Now I call writing my draft “drafting” so that I can name all three of those things “Writing”.

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