Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Writers Write

Since I have a large family, a constant thread of discussion is always on cleaning bedrooms. Apparently, my definition of a clean bedroom is far different from my children's. I'd like to see the carpet occasionally. I'd like to go to the closet and see the clothes hanging from the rod instead of jumbled into a ball on the floor. I'd like to know that we're not growing our own version of penicillin under the bed. I don't insist that the vacuum marks all align in the same direction or that the windows are so clear birds might fly through them. I don't demand that the walls are completely smudge free or that the pillows are fluffed to a certain state of fluffiness. I merely ask that when I walk by the bedroom I don't shudder and feel an uncontrollable urge to vomit.

We were having another discussion this morning about how I wanted the rooms to be cleaned since we start school next week. (We all know it'd be so much easier for me to simply clean their rooms and be done with it, but what would that teach them?) After our discussion followed several smaller talks with individual kids about how he/she would fold clothes, place blankets in a certain place, line up shoes on the shelf, display only important items on the dressers, organize Legos, and general plans for the room. All of these were great ideas. It was wonderful to discuss their plans and see that they were thinking about their rooms and how to make them function more efficiently. It was effective to bounce ideas around and ask for advice. It helped to make the cleaning seem like it was manageable until . . . . it came time for the actual work. We'd done so much talking and planning, yet, nothing was accomplished. The rooms are still messy and my kids are still talking about how they plan to clean. I keep reminding them that all the talking in the world won't make up for not following through with the work.

And so it is with writing. We can talk about it, think about it, plan it, read about how to do it, and otherwise involve ourselves, but until we actually tackle the work and accomplish what we've planned, it isn't truly writing. Someone has said, "Writing is writing." The process of sitting down, creating stories, revising, reworking, rewriting, and continuing the process until we have a finished product that satisfies us is writing. Hundreds, probably thousands, of books have been written on writing and these books certainly serve a purpose, but it's the writing that has to be the priority. We learn best from doing because . . . writers write.

8 comments:

Josi said...

So true, Rebecca, and the reason we talk about it is the same reason your kids do--it's easy and it's exciting to discuss it. But as you said, it doesn't take the place of actually doing the work.

My best friend with clean bedrooms is a timer set for 10, 20, or 45 minutes. for my kids, knowing there is an end to the cleaning keeps them going--of course I have to be close so they don't get distracted by the family of cockroaches that live under the dresser :-)

Stephanie Humphreys said...

My youngest is very motivated by the idea that I might clean her room if she doesn't. She is a collector and she know if I clean the room, lots of her prized pieces of junk will disappear. I also remember to not be too hard on her. It doesn't have to be perfect all at once and can be worked on in pieces throughout the week.

I try to remember that last bit when I write...it really doesn't have to be perfect all at once, I just have to be working at it.

ali said...

Ugh. You caught me Rebecca! I have been writing and feeling great about it until ... I got my critiques back for my book that's the furthest along (ie done). Sort of anyway. I loved the critiques they were great and spurred me on to figure out how the story could be fleshed out appropriately. But for some reason I feel utterly stuck at how to go about the actual process. It is JUST LIKE having a horribly messy room that needs cleaning. Where they heck do you start? And how long is this going to take me? And if I do ever manage to get it cleaned up, will I recognize it? Will it still be mine, without all that mess? And will I be able to keep it that way????

Ahh, questions questions. But while writing this I had a 'brain blast' (a la Jimmy Neutron). I should go about my writing, when I get stuck like this, like Flylady proposes you go about housecleaning. Fifteen minutes at a time. "You can do anything for fifteen minutes" she says.

Guess I should go and do!

Stephanie Humphreys said...

I love Fly lady, ali! I just can never stick with it.

Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

Rebecca, you are invited to join the LDS Blog Webring I set up. You may do by going to my blogspot, locating the webring on the righthand side of the page and clicking on Join. Hope to see you come aboard.

Be sure to insert the code on your blogspot right after signing up or it halts the progression of the webring as people click on next.

C. L. Beck said...

Rebecca,
Good writing advice. Yup, the best laid plans of mice and men never happen if we don't sit down and actually WRITE!

Rebecca Talley said...

Now if only I can take my own advice!

Annette Lyon said...

Well put, Rebecca! "Writing is writing." Love it!

And you just described my kids' bedrooms. Glad to know I'm not the only mom with kids who think "clean" is a 4-letter word.