Last week, a few friends and I were talking about obsessions and compulsions. I commented that I can be a little obsessive (or is it compulsive?) about posting every day on Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog. OK, I don’t make it every day but I come close, and if morning comes and I haven’t posted, I can get a bit frantic. Sit down and Write Now, my Inner Obsessive-Compulsive tells me. Sometimes, the only solution is Forced Writing, sitting down at the keyboard and writing something. I have a love-hate relationship with Forced Writing, or more correctly, a hate-love relationship. I hate when I’m sitting there pecking at the keys and getting nothing but I hate it even more when I’ve spent 30 minutes writing a topic that sucks. Do I start over or … as my business partner likes to say … polish the turd? Then every now and then, something I really like shows up. I REALLY love when that happens, enough, even, to tolerate the times I hate it. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had writer’s block, especially when I’m working on something long and intricate like a (long) short story or a novel. There, I can get wrapped around the axle on characterization or plotting. That’s one of the reasons I like very short pieces and, especially, blogging. If I bang away on the keyboard for an hour or so, I’m likely to produce something acceptable … and occasionally, exceptional. When that happens, it doesn’t matter if anyone else thinks it’s exceptional. It is the best of the creative experience.
I Googled Forced Writing and there seems to be a difference of opinion about its value. A Writer’s Rare Dream offers a post titled Forced Writing Isn’t Writing at All, but it’s about writing for pay about subjects in which you have no interest. No fear of that here on Bud’s Blog. Sometimes, it says, in order to pay the bills, you have to write about topics that let’s face it, you have to have energy drinks just to stay awake. Just don’t make this all you do or you’ll find yourself hating the job you’ve dreamed about. For most of us bloggers, pay’s not an issue but he does offer some good pros and cons for Forced Writing:
You may earn more.
You may find new interests, which leads to more topics.
You may get your work noticed by a wider audience.
You lose interest in writing.
The work comes off as forced.
You spend more time than usual on research and end up actually losing money.
Writing becomes just a job instead of something to be proud of.
I’m inclined to agree with Kimberly Viveiros, author of the WordPress blog, Insight and Thoughts, who posted Inspired Writing vs Forced Writing (and why we writers should do both) back in November of 2012 (yes, she is still posting, at least as of March 2013). If we are going to write every day, sometimes we are going to endure Forced Writing. I believe it gradually becomes habitual to just put words on the page without agonizing over them. Sometimes, the words can be just for ourselves, as Julia Cameron prescribes in Morning Pages, the free-form journaling of a set number of pages each day. Writing with no requirements, no editing, no expectations is a slightly dangerous way to learn to put words on the page (slightly dangerous because you never know what will turn up). Short fiction or nonfiction (like blogging) is another way. One of my favorite sayings about writing is from Jack London (yes, I’ve used it before … and I’ll use it again): You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club. My club is Forced Writing. Sometimes, Forced Writing morphs into Inspired Writing. This post, by the way, is the product of Forced Writing. It ain’t Hemingway but I can live with it.
How do you feel about Forced Writing?