Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quotation of the Week: Rick Moody

"I'm against schedules. Write when you feel excited by the prospect. Otherwise, don't bother."
--Rick Moody
Source: The Paris Review

What do you think of this one, practicing writers? Kind of goes against a lot of what we've been taught, doesn't it? On the other hand, it does sound wonderfully liberating!

9 comments:

Mridu Khullar said...

It's a great quote in theory, but what if you have a two-book deal? Can you afford not to deliver? What if you're a journalist writing on daily deadlines?

Personally, I'm not the kind of writer who can afford to write only when inspiration strikes. If that were the case, sadly, I'd never get around to it. Twitter is just a lot more gratifying in the short term.

deonne kahler said...

I'm with Mridu on the deadlines. If you've got them, you don't have the luxury of writing only when inspiration strikes.

But since I, for example, am currently without an editor waiting for pages, I'm with Moody. If the writing isn't fun/interesting/exciting, why bother? Why make it feel like a chore?

I've been both a write-every-day writer and a write-when-inspiration-strikes writer, and I have to admit, the quality and quantity of the work from both methods is about the same.

But. There's something about writing regularly - daily, on the weekends, whenever - that opens you up to good ideas, and certainly the more you practice the craft, the better writer you become. So maybe the ticket is regular-when-inspiration-strikes writing? I'm going for that.

Lisa Romeo said...

One thing I've learned is that writing not only occurs at the keyboard/notebook. So much of what I (eventually) write has its roots in what's going on in my head the rest of the hours of the day.

It took a long time to realize it, but now I understand that I'm *writing* all the time, and very often I accomplish more when I do get to the keyboard, if I've let my brain play with the material for a while away from the keyboard.

John Vanderslice said...

I think everyone has a different way of working that fits his or her imagination and his or her life style. I love Rick Moody's fiction, so I can't argue that his way of working works for him. But I also know that Rick does not "work a day job." If your day open up before you more freely, I think you can and should feel more free as to when you apply your imagination. But if a person works an 8 hour job, waiting for the imagination to strike might mean never writing anything. It all depends on who you are. One unique way of seeing this issue: I know there is a school of thought out there that says you should avoid sabbatical type breaks from your job because with all that free time you'll end up avoiding doing imaginative work rather than tethering yourself to the study chair. I can't say I sympathize much with this other extreme viewpoint. Having recently come off a sabbatical I can say that it was the best thing I could have done for my book and my creativity.

Otter7 said...

I do think it's important to get something down when inspiration strikes. The truth is, writing regularly has, for me, been a kind of maturation process. I am not always working on something I'm totally thrilled about, yet the more chair time I have, the more my eye is sharpened and my skills improve. I just try to turn to another project for awhile if one feels too much like a chore. Having several things in the air at once helps me to stay eager. My sense is that most successful writers have a practice of working
every day, regardless of muse.

Anonymous said...

For me, the longer one goes without writing, the more it feels like writer's block.

Erika D. said...

Thanks for all the comments, everyone! A lot of good points here.

Erika D. said...

I must apologize to a commenter who left a message today. There was no name (just a profile name, which I can't recall). I accidentally deleted the message! If you post it again, commenter, I'll be more careful!

danceluvr said...

When I was learning how to play the saxophone, my mother forced me to practice every day. Eventually, I became so proficient at the basics that I could enjoy playing the classics (I'd switched to bassoon by then).

I feel it's the same with writing. We need to write something every day, even if it's only 100 words or so.

Otherwise, how can we progress to the proficient and enjoyable stage?