Lee Child made what I thought was an interesting remark at Left Coast Crime earlier this month. Paraphrasing, it was that the fun part of writing is the daydreaming, and that the hard part is getting the words onto the page.
Ain’t that the blazing truth.
I’ve been thinking about that remark for weeks. Somehow I’ve had the notion all this time that getting words onto the page is easier for everyone else than it is for me. Given a choice, I’d rather visualize scenes hundreds of different ways than actually sit down and write one down. Why? Because the version I choose might not work, and then I’d have to cut all those pages.
I know: “Get over it.”
It takes a long time to put down thousands of words. Cutting them is hard. Why not decide first how I want the book to go, by daydreaming through dozens of plot lines, and then writing down the version I decide is best? For me, daydreaming is oodles more fun than typing words. Many writers say they have to write, that they are addicted to writing. Not me. I’m addicted to daydreaming.
A few years ago, David Morrell shared an interesting story about daydreaming that I’ll never forget. Coupled with this new statement by Lee Child, I grow hopeful now that my Writer Imposter Complex might possibly be unfounded.
The keyboard does not call me. I don’t get a charge out of putting down the words. My charge is always in the imagining.
In this regard, I fervently hope that my future as a writer will parallel my history as a runner. There was a time I did not enjoy running. The only thing I liked about it was how I felt afterward, and fortunately that feeling was good enough to keep me lacing up and coming back. Writing, the actual act, is a little like that for me now. Making a synopsis, staring at a blinking cursor, struggling for a word, or figuring out the best way to express an emotion is often frustrating. As with my running years ago, writing is frequently painful while I’m doing it. But, like the running, I feel an indescribable sense of accomplishment when it’s over. Huge. It’s the buzz that keeps me coming back.
Twenty years later, I’m still running. Now I actually love the run while I’m doing it. I feel disappointed when I miss a run and I’m always looking forward to the next one.
Today I’m daydreaming about a time when writing will feel like that.