Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Finite Number of Words

"I'm convinced that there are only so many words per day in the human body: If you do some longish emails and a few tweets, you feel done."


This remark by Quindlen resonated with me because I had a student last year who believed that she had just a finite number of words to use, and was nervous as to what she put down. While we all pulled her chain about this, I still think there was some truth to it. Quindlen expressed here what I definitely can relate to: If you write all kinds of other stuff, by the time you get to your real writing you might feel depleted. Which is one reason I never wanted to have a full-time job writing, and why I still aim to write my own stuff first thing in the morning. Which also means that inherently, blogging is a danger, unless blogging is the only writing you do, because you do give up some of your words. But at least, I tell myself, I make friends with those blogging words.

15 comments:

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  2. Mir geht es nur teilweise so. Denn beim Schreiben, egal ob Email oder Blogtext, inspiriere ich mich oft selbst, dann finde ich neue Text-Ideen fuer meine Karten oder einen neuen Blogtext. Mir fehlt dann eher die Zeit (fuers Malen) als eine bestimmte Anzahl an Woertern fuer andere Projekte. Im Grossen und Ganzen finde ich also: Woerter generieren Woerter. Aber ich schreibe ja auch nicht hauptberuflich ...

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  3. That's really interesting. That is kind of contrary then to the "morning pages" or journaling to get stuff out of your head, Julia Cameron-style thinking then, isn't it?

    I'd love to know which approach works better for most writers. I think on the days that I'm stressed about things I tend to like journaling to let it all out, but most days, I agree with Quindlen-- do the work first, muck about with e-mail later.

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  4. This is really something to think about. I'm playing with when my best writing time is. I don't think it's first thing in the morning anymore. However, I have to discipline myself to make sacred that afternoon spell that I think is working for me. I can't say, "Let me put in one more load of laundry or make one more phone call."

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  5. I don't know if it's a finite number of words, or if it's a finite amount of energy for written articulation. Regardless, I think there's some truth here. I wonder if the self-promotion writers do in this era douses some of the spark of 'real' work? My answer to my own question is a sad yes. Setting aside the morning is a good solution, but difficult with my family's schedule. My best bet is to have someone holding me accountable ... and get off the internet :).

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  6. For me, I disagree. I find I have to do a lot of writing to uncover the juiciest parts.

    I have been writing (for pay) for a content farm. Mostly it is mundane, tedious work, churning out as many articles as I can in a day. As soon as I started doing this regularly, I started getting fresh inspiration for poems and blog posts. It feels like my mind is a wordsmithing engine and I have to use it a lot to keep it lubricated. The content farm stuff also forces me to grow more comfortable with language.

    I suppose everyone's brain is different.

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  7. I agree that spending your most productive time on emails and tweets is not good time management. However, I have found that writing on my blog has sharpened my writing, rather than diminished it. I can get my thoughts on paper easier than before I wrote frequently on my blog. That said, I do the paying work first, then the blog.

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  8. You make a good point. I love writing blog posts and tapping my writer brain, but it does tire me out for my WIP. I love Blogathon because it started me on the right track last year, but after that... it's focus-on-WIP time.

    Great post!

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  9. I want to keep writing non fiction and my memoir type book. I have found blogging helps me with my writing and I love finding like minded people!

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  10. WOW this is sooo true and alot to think about. My 'job' deals with alot of listening and quite a bit of communicating- so that alones makes me feel depleted when I come to writing- and then when I top OTHER miscellaneous writing communications...well it does almost seem like the words tank is empty- I stare at the screen and scratch my head...'now what was that great idea I had..." ha ha!

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  11. Well, my husband would certainly agree with you. He's forever yelling at me to quit Facebook and e-mail and write something important. I believe you both have a good point.

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  12. Somedays I think there a finite number of words I can read in a day. So by the time I am finished reading the news, my emails, blogs etc. I'm overloaded. It's often necessary for the particular thing I'm working on . . . balance, that's the key!!

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  13. Thank you for so succinctly saying what I know to be true for me: morning time is my best time for words so I need to make my choices wisely.

    This post is a keeper.
    Karen

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  14. Interesting take. I find that it's a little of both ~ sometimes I write stuff all over the map: blog, newsletter, long, ahnd written letters, poems, and then sometimes if I concetrate on one or two of those, I have nothing left for the others.

    But then sometimes I'm like Van Waffle ~ the more writing I do, the more flows out of me.

    I seem to do my best writing both early in the morning or in the late afternoon. The key for me is having adequate writing space.

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  15. Even though this post is old, I'd like to add sth that had not been mentioned yet. I am not a writer, so maybe this is different for me.
    It seems that writing down some deep emotions or whatever is found within, in my own little diary in the morning, helps to keep these things apart from what I intend to write later, on a blog or in an email or whatever text. And it helps to keep the daily conversations with people around me in a healthy state.
    And it helps to stay aware.
    Just a thought.

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