Alafair was in her room, working on her first attempt at a novel, tapping away on a computer she had bought at a yard sale. I had offered to buy her a better one, but she has said a more expensive computer would not help her write better. She kept a notebook on her nightstand and wrote in it before going to sleep. She had already filled two hundred pages with notes and experimental lines for her book. Sometimes she awoke in the middle of the night and wrote down the dreams she had just had. When she awoke in the morning two scenes had already written themselves in her imagination and during the next few hours she would translate them into one thousand words of double-spaced script.
She often wrote out her paragraphs in long hand then edited each paragraph before typing it on manuscript paper. She edited each typed page with a blue pencil and placed it facedown in a wire basket and began composing another one. If she caught me reading over her shoulder, she would hit me in the stomach with her elbow. The next morning, she would revise everything she had written the previous day and then start in on the one thousand words she required of herself for the present day.
James Lee Burke
“The Tin Roof Blowdown”
You can go to the page on a computer or to the page of your paper notebook.
You can use a decades old machine for a computer. You can use your grandfather’s quill pen and a special blend of ink.
It does not make your prose any better because if you do not go to that page without the idea in mind that you are going to create something that is your own then do not waste anyone’s time. Do not write because you have issues and you think that the world will learn from them. Do not think that people care about your issues one whit. If you want to tell stories about love and tenderness and loss, write a journal and keep it to yourself so that someone else might stumble upon it a decade from now and manage to write a piece of historical fiction, where a melodramatic trollop is the comedic foil in the midst of the great story they will write.
If you do not go to that page with the same plan of action you would apply to a full time job, do not waste your time. There is no magical eight hours that produces that one fantastic work of fiction. It is hours piled on hours of honest work that produces that one story that manages to entertain a complete stranger for an hour or so. It is no different from rebuilding a car engine, creating a sculpture, planning a backyard project, painting a room, cutting the lawn, or cutting your toenails. It is a job. It requires tools.
It is not the act of creation and it is not your child. Any two idiots with compatible genitalia can get that done in a matter of seconds, excluding the time it takes to take their clothes off or get themselves drunk enough.
Go to the page wearing fuzzy bunny slippers and a batters helmet with two beer cans strapped to it, a single tube connecting them to your mouth so that you have a near intra-venal supply of beer. But if that is your plan, then stick with that plan, and make sure if that is what it takes for you to write, then do exactly that. If looking that silly makes you take it more seriously, then give it all you got. You might need to go into rehab or find a spouse that has no problems living their lives with a functional alcoholic, but that is how you take writing seriously and then you must pay that price.
If you do not go to that page without the intention of filing it with something that will entertain or intrigue someone for those two hundred and fifty words, then do not waste your time and the reader will thank you for not wasting theirs.