Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Friday Fessing – Because Someone Has To


I started Chapter 10 this week. I started Chapter 10 this week. I started Chapter 10 this week.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

However, I did manage to have two very useful conversations about the writing process. One with Courtney who very kindly listened to my moans and complaints and self-doubt and said many useful things along the lines of “Get on with it”, and the other with my main cheerleader who listened carefully and made sensible suggestions as I talked through where the story is going and my characters’ motivations. Thank you both! You made me feel a little less lonely and scared.

I think thinking about writing is harder than doing it. When I’m thinking about it, I’m in imperative mode. I should, I should, I should. But when I’m actually writing, I am usually in a happy place of flow. It’s a bit like the difference between thinking about doing yoga (Oh, I really should) and doing it (God, this feels good).

On the topic of writing feeling good, here’s an excerpt from Susan O’Doherty’s post today:

Writing can be arduous, terrifying work, even when it goes well. The submission process can be intimidating and even humiliating, and publication itself is often a minefield. Yet we keep going, and not because we’re masochists.

This week, two writer clients articulated the benefits they derive from the act of writing. The first, a gifted nonfiction writer who grapples with clinical depression, reported that she had recently completed two long blog posts after an extended period of being unable to focus. “I feel better when I’m writing,” she said, “even physically. It’s as good as swimming laps at the Y.”

The second is struggling to find the time to revise her brilliant novel. She is pressed by tight deadlines as well as by a number of family and business crises that drain her time and energy. Yet she reports feeling nourished, rather than stressed, by her rushed writing sessions: “Writing, I’m my best self,” she said. “I like the person I am when I’m working well.”

These are hard times for nearly everyone I know. Amid all of the anxiety and despair, it may be helpful to reflect on how fortunate we are that, unlike, say, alcoholics or gamblers, the thing we are driven to do may also be the best thing for us.

Writing is the best thing for me. As my friend JP said in one of his posts this week, it’s not about the outcome but about the journey. I also like who I am when I’m writing.

So my goal for this coming week is to take Courtney’s advice and try getting up early to write instead of leaving till night when I’m exhausted, and to make some notable progress on Chapter 10.

And to enjoy the full endorphin rush of it.


Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

17 thoughts on “Friday Fessing – Because Someone Has To

  1. With you all the way, Charl. Yes, it is a good feeling when making mileage. Frequently, I don’t want to get down to it, because I don’t believe I can solve the problems. And then, once engrossed, I’m surprised by the solutions that start presenting themselves. The brain is a strange thing. See ya.

  2. Yeah my post could sound a lot like yours except it’s more like “I started Chapter 4 this week.” There’s a great chapter on “shoulds” in Heather Sellers’ Chapter After Chapter. I highly recommend that book as a way to help motivate and blast through a lot of those “I ought to blah” to get to the doing. I think it does become imperative to start early (unless you’re a night owl or aren’t working a day job, taking care of a family, etc.) because, yeah, we all really ARE exhausted at night. And it’s important that we put the writing higher on the priority totem pole if we are serious about getting it done!

  3. I just started blogging on being an American mom in Germany and was inspired by your blog. Nice body of work! And what’s up with socks in summer, anyway??

  4. Pingback: A Day Off and ‘Fessing Up « yoga gumbo

  5. Good luck with Chapter Ten! And yes, enjoy your writing, because if you don’t enjoy writing it, how can you expect others to enjoy reading it?! :0)

  6. “I should. I should”

    You know, I was only just thinking that this morning. And you’re right. It does induce a sort of low-level anxiety.

  7. That’s so exactly what the book I’ve just been reading is saying – it’s by Julia Cameron and called the Right to Write – all about just letting it flow without thinking too hard and leaving the revising, self-criticism and editing for a later stage. Good luck with Chapter 10, I’m sure it will all pour onto the page when you seize the mornings for your writing time…

  8. Good luck, Charlotte! You know you have loads of supporters here in the blogworld, and I am most certainly one of them. Writing’s a funny old thing. But I think its great saving grace is that you can do it again tomorrow if you didn’t like what you did today. Have you ever visited Emma Darwin’s blog The Itch of Writing? It’s the best writing blog I’ve ever read and I often find it very inspiring. Hang on, I’ll get a url.

  9. Oh do carry on writing, Charlotte. First for you, because it is evident how deeply you care about your writing. And secondly for me, because your book is on my mental TBR list.

  10. what a post! I am glad you are going to get on with it because really, your writing is stunning on this blog alone and the excerpts of your novel you’ve posted are incredible as well. Beyond that, as my father has often said, you can either die having written the novels you wanted t write, or not. I say, let’s both choose, having written…

  11. I was wondering whether getting up early might be the solution too, then again I’d probably have to get up at 4am to outwit Lord Hyperactive. I might try it, anyway. All I did this week was write chapter four, which was all I did last week, and the week before, and the week before, and the week before. La, la, la, la!

    Are you going to do NaNoBloPoMo? I was thinking: “Ooh, I don’t have time,” but then had another idea that I could make it a daily progress report on my writing! Not sure how interesting anyone would find that (chapter four… chapter four… chapter four…) but I think it might be quite motivating in a personal sense.

  12. Writing. God, how I miss it.

  13. Charlotte, good for you. And yes, thinking about writing is harder than writing. But, the thinking is a necessary part of the writing that does make writing easier. It’s your protection against writers block.

  14. I wake up and write early too, it’s the only time I have to myself.

  15. Okay. Now we have a new computer and the word processing section is a blank slate maybe I can DO some writing instead of thinking about it. Thanks for your insights, I think this may just be the inspiration I needed.

  16. You are making such great progress! You’re in double-digit chapters now… sounds so substantial. (Also, so you know after reading your last post, I really want to read your novel… so I hope you finish it soon and get it published so I can buy the book! I’ll try to be patient, promise.)

    You know it’s right when the writing itself feels so good.

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