November 1, 2011

Insecure Writers - writing and composting

with NanoWrimo starting today, you would think i would be posting something on the subject. it's near and dear to my heart. it's how i started writing. it gave me a fantasy novel to publish. every November since 2005, i've encouraged other writers to try it, just to get their stories out.  

well, i'm not going to post about Nano this year. hundreds of other bloggers will be  talking about it. today, i would much rather talk about garbage... or in this case, compost.

and not to be insulting, but just in case you don't know what composting is, here's a quick explanation:

Composting involves mixing yard and household organic waste in a pile or bin and providing conditions that encourage decomposition. The decomposition process is fueled by millions of microscopic organisms (bacteria, fungi) that take up residence inside your compost pile, continuously devouring and recycling it to produce a rich organic fertilizer and valuable soil amendment.

now you may be asking, "what the heck does composting have to do with writing, and why would she bring it up for her insecure writers post?"

it goes back to a blog post i read over at Shrinking Violet Promotions a few months ago on writing and bread. it was a brilliant post on how we each have to find our own way to write and how it's like making bread. but at the end she mentioned finding your own analogy and she suggested composting. and that got me thinking about all the words we write and how many of those are garbage, and how many are brilliant and still get chopped from our stories.

i'm not the first writer to compare writing to composting. Natalie Goldberg does it in her book Writing Down the Bones. yet, while she uses the analogy of how we can use the compost heaps of our lives for our writing, i'm suggesting that a lot of the writing we do can be used in the compost heap (which is not to say that every word we write is garbage, but even a large part of the brilliant ones have to be tossed out for the sake of honing the story).

i used to think that every word i chopped from my story was wasted. that led me to think that i had to write a brilliant story the first time around. i've found that my expectation was impossible. it paralyzes me so i don't write at all. but when i rolled this analogy around in my head, it made any writing i do seem important. the words i write today may not get used at all, but i can add them to the heap of other words i've written, good and bad, and that becomes the fertilizer and soil amendment out of which my real story can grow.

so my word to my fellow insecure writers - write. keep writing. every word you write, whether it's for your current novel or not, will add to the richness of your story. every word you chop from your novel will be a word that helped you discover what your story wasn't about so you could write what it was about.


February Grace said...

timing on this post was perfect for me- thank you, my friend.

trying to shake off the paralysis to write- and the pressure was making it impossible to write. thank you for reminding me that you have to mine to find gems, that doesn't mean that all that digging through the dirt is wasted- it's necessary.

love you muchly.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I know everything I write isn't brilliant! Fortunately I have no problems tossing the garbage.
Excellent words of encouragement for the group!

mish said...

Thanks for the encouraging words!