Monday, December 21, 2009

When you can't eat the whole frog

"The process of writing books is somewhat akin to a very long police interrogation in which the detective leans over the table littered with the butt ends of cigarettes and cold coffee in Styrofoam cups and says for the 87th time, 'Now let's go over this again.'" -Ann Patchett

Yep. That's exactly what it's like. I'm facing the prospect of two such long interrogations in the coming extravaganza that will be 2010, so the question becomes how to fit Patchett's spot-on assessment of this task (which I've tested & verified through two books already) alongside my determination to live a happy life via the successful clearance of daily low-bar goals?

A confession: for some things, I find that the eat that frog approach doesn't work. Some projects are just too big & daunting, and envisioning them as an amphibian to be consumed makes things worse instead of better. So I'm trying to remember back to my college days, where it seemed like a long paper on some esoteric subject was due every single week. How did I get it all done? What motivated me? Was it the reward system? A sense that life wouldn't work if I didn't keep chipping away? Fear of failure?

Do you remember what motivated you the last time you did something huge? What would YOU do on your first day of writing a book?


Linda Makins said...

Hmm, on my first day of writing a book I would start in the middle. Seems to me that it's the beginning that stumps us. I have written many articles for magazines and the middle is where I tend to begin-but hey, I'm not the author of a book. Pondering that huge leap for the new year as well (get the frog pun?).

Trish Ryan said...

Linda, I love that idea! One of the biggest surprises for me with book #1 was that the poignant, witty preface I'd written first got scrapped in it's entirety in the editing process. Starting in the middle is a great way to avoid getting overly attached to the beginning :)

heidikins said...

I am a nerd so I actually sketched--with pictures--an outline of what I wanted the story to be...and I made a character tree.

I'm probably hopeless, but it helped. Now if only I could keep writing....


Sarakastic said...

I love Ann Patchett so I would probably pretend I was her and then try and write a book.