Following up on yesterday’s whiny writing (or not writing) post, it comes to me that there are choices we have to make as writers. As artists, if you will.

Do you produce more than you consume?

I don’t. It’s probably one of my biggest faults as a writer. I love to read. I love to watch the language being played with and constructed into something beautiful. I marvel at the writer’s skill.

While Stephen King (in his brilliant memoir/how-to tome, On Writing) says that the first rule of being a writer is to “read a lot and write a lot,” I find myself often doing the former and not following up with the latter. So a lot of the time, I choose to consume rather than produce. The result is half-finished manuscripts or ill-conceived story ideas that can’t find their legs. So the Word document sits open and unused on my laptop for days.

I also find time to suckle at the glass teat (King’s term for television in Danse Macabre, which he credits to someone else. Not sure who, and my copy isn’t handy at the moment. Come on, I’ve got this stream-of-consciousness thing going on here) almost every day. Amazon Prime’s video-on-demand feature is a downfall. I happen to love the old show NYPD Blue with a passion that might border on demented. All 12 seasons are available right now. I’ve seen about 70 episodes (3+ seasons) over the past month or two.

Consuming, rather than producing. It’s a choice, damn it.

Don’t get me started on the great wide Web, either. Facebook is a time-suck. So is Twitter. So is ESPN. And Fark. And The Chive. And Cracked. The great irony is, of course, that I’m writing this for instant publication on the blog. Woo, immediate gratification!

Am I a writer or a reader? I may not be able to be both. For someone who loves books as much as I do, that sort of sucks.

The nice thing is that there was some sense of determination, of desperation even, to get to the keyboard this morning and let some of the roaring maelstrom in my head get out and onto the screen. Even if it just comes out as a blog post that a couple hundred people read, it’s better than not pushing the cursor across the screen.

So anyway.


I’m doing it. Maybe soon I can work up to the page. To the real work. Maybe I can sneak up on it and pounce. Maybe I can produce, rather than consume.

Wouldn’t that be nice for a change?


One thought on “Choices

  1. Here’s my suggestion: write a little bit each day. If you write 500 words a day, you’ll have a novel come summertime. If 500 words is too much, write 250, and then you’ll have a novel by December. It’s only a little bit of time each day — 15 to 30 minutes. You don’t have to give up your reading or TV watching (and I think TV watching can be beneficial to a writer, especially a complex show like NYPD Blue). Maybe you’ll have to give up some of your Internet surfing, but not all of it. There’s no reason creating should cut huge swaths of time out of your life.

    I mean, I’ve given you plenty of kicks in the ass about this topic, but maybe what you need is a little gentle love for a change, you know? It’s worth a shot.

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