Monday, June 25, 2007

A Reactive Writer

I've had a semi-epiphany in recent days/weeks/months. I'm a "reactive" writer. I've spent many years in online posting with the vast majority of such posts in response to others. In any online mailing list, web-based BBS forum or Usenet newsgroup, I have rarely started new threads, but have often responded to others' posts. I haven't looked statistically, but no doubt the average poster has a higher thread-starting-posts to responding-posts ratio than I do.

The number of posts I've made on the AbsoluteWrite forums since registering there last December approaches 900. The amount of time I've spent writing fiction (what I joined there to learn to do) is probably between one and four percent of the time writing posts. That doesn't count reading other posts, which I do a lot of also.

I've been writing this way online for decades, by having back-and-forth "discussions" with others online (my first online forum/discussion board experience was in 1977). The Flash Fiction pieces I've written in recent months all start with the hosts posting a "prompt" that varies from one to five words or so on which a story is to be based, and I've usually been able to write something around those prompts. But writing on a blog, or especially into a word processor document where I need to do significant writing. yet no one will see it for a while. seems a little scary to me. I'm not sure where I'm going or if I'm "doing it right." . And especially on a blog, I've got this set up to where anyone can read it. Well, not my mother. She doesn't know anything about the Internet, or really anything that's not covered on hard-hitting news shows such as Entertainment Tonight.

I was prompted to write this very blog just a few minutes ago by seeing myself mentioned on someone else's blog. I just went to my first-ever meeting of a face-to-face "writer's group" last night, and met three really nice people, all of which have written a lot more (fiction) than I have. For another account of it, check out
Dominic's blog entry for today. I did think sometime while driving to/from the meeting last night of writing this and the title "A Reactive Writer" but I don't think I would have actually written this (at least not today) had I not seen Dominic's blog.

But I heard again last night what I'd read several times before about writing, "just write." It (allegedly!) doesn't matter how good or bad it is, one's writing (supposedly!) gets better with practice. I mentioned last night that I wanted to write a novel (and certainly longer works than the Flash Fiction pieces), and so I was "assigned" to start on something and write ten pages before the next meeting. There, I've written my assignment here.

I've read a lot about having "butt in chair" time typing away, and I've had a lot of that, but it's been writing message posts, not actual attempts at writing fiction or other works written with an eventual eye toward publication. As for those "other works," I also want to write a bio/memoir.

I really need to "prompt" myself.