Karolyn Sherwood, Author

Define “Writing”

When people ask me how many hours I write in a day or a week, I tend to stumble through my answer. My sweet husband will often jump in to say, “Sixty hours a week, at least.” I look at him askance and smile at his generosity.

But it all depends on one’s definition of “writing,” I suppose.

Write, writing, wrote… def: the activity or skill of marking coherent words on paper and composing text.

1. Adding new words to a page (and apparently they’re supposed to be coherent words)
2. Editing those words: cutting out the weak or superfluous ones (read: adverbs); exchanging the boring words for non-boring words (read: verbs).
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until your fingers bleed.

But there’s more. What about the planning stages? Parents and teachers used to scold children for daydreaming, but would any great book have made it into print if authors weren’t allowed to daydream? Many days I’ll curl up on my sofa with paper and pen and scribble down ideas and thoughts, but some of my best ideas come to me in the shower, or in those sweet, sweet moments of hypnagogia. (Look that one up; it’s worth remembering.)

And here’s the big one: reading. Could anyone write a decent novel if s/he had never read one? And if a person wants to write a memorable story, mustn’t s/he read a plethora of good books? (Where else would we learn the meaning of plethora?)

Blogging! There’s another necessary element to “writing” in the Twenty-first century. (Okay, I don’t think Ann Patchett has a blog, but… )

So, if I add up blogging, reading, daydreaming, editing, and writing… carry the one… From now on, my response to the question, “How many hours a week do you write?” will be: “A thousand, give or take.”

But then, I am a pseudologist, right?

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