Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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November 9, 2011

Sweat Equity: Perspiration vs. Inspiration in Writing

By Laura Drake

On Monday, our own Fae Rowen took on the Inspiration half of this discussion, brilliantly. You can read it here.

When this throwdown was first suggested, all the WITS Bloggers assumed I’d take the Sweaty side. I don’t want to think about what that says about me. Or my deodorant.

Why? Because I get up at 3 am to write before work? That I do it on weekends too? Because writing and getting published is the single most important thing in my life right now? (If you know my husband, do not call him – there’s money in it for you.)

I get the feeling sometimes that people hate me for my writing habits. No, really. When the subject comes up, they glare at me, or they look guilty and sidle away.

But please, before you do that – read the following:

You do not have to get up early, or stay up until the ungodly hour of nine to put in sweat equity.

    • I know busy moms who back their SUV up to the soccer field and write – looking up now and again to shout encouragement to their kids.
    • I know retired people who lock themselves in their office, not emerging until their word count for the day is in the bag.
    • My husband met an 80 year old guard at the badge-check booth of an Aerospace firm, who penned “City Slickers” while on the job (honest-to-God truth.)
    • Many writers get their best ideas in the shower (no, not the sex scenes, either.)
    I don’t have a muse. Don’t believe in them. If I did have one, she’d be a saggy old broad, smoking a cigarette and giving me the finger.

It’s not about the time of day. It’s not about the ambiance of your writing space. It isn’t even about butt in the chair.

It’s about wanting something. Wanting something bad enough to put in the hours, tears, years, and enough sweat equity to buy the city you live in.

It’s just as hard and simple as that.

If you set a goal, want it bad enough, AND you enjoy the journey to get there, you will.

So, all that remains is for you to decide how best to enjoy the journey while you’re waiting, right? That means finding a schedule that works best for you. Morning, evening, or stolen minutes between . . . it doesn’t matter. I don’t get a gold star for getting up early. You don’t get one for staying up late.

What we both will get if we keep at it, is a book in our hand, with our name on it.

So what if it’s a little damp and sweaty-smelling?

That’s the smell of success, people!


0 comments on “Sweat Equity: Perspiration vs. Inspiration in Writing”

  1. Ah Laura, you fiesty broad. Do I love the lady with the sagging wrinkles and the finger? Gees, she could be my better half. We all read a copius amount of blog posts, some complain about the process, some peel it down like an onion, until there is nothing left. I haven't got that smelly book in my hands YET. WHEN I do, you are going to be the first person I tell. I'll yell and scream (only in email form, so don't worry) and then I'll tell you for the fiftieth time. Thank you Laura Drake, for being you and finding me, sitting here with butt in chair sweating like a fool and grateful to be so 🙂

    1. Florence, you never fail to make me laugh - I can't wait to hold YOUR sweaty book in my hand, and laugh while I read it! You're as tough as I am (but you have the advantage of being from NY, so you probably trump Detroit) so I KNOW I'll get the chance!

  2. Love this! I think I've wanted to have my book published ever since the 6th grade, and though life has taken me on quite a ride, that is STILL what I want. 🙂

    1. Melissa,
      Then GO for it, girl! As Susan Mallery said at our our local Chapter's Birthday bash, last month, the only way to fail for sure, is to quit!

  3. LOL! Love it. I disagree, I think you DO have a muse. Everyone does. I agree that she's probably a saggy old broad lol. That so fits how you wrote this. Nobody said muses were pretty, or mystical, or anything at all. Your muse is whatever YOU want her to be. I love the photo. You should have that on your desktop wallpaper lol. If you can find one where she's flipping you off it would be even better *grin*.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants! sweaty boot and all 😉

    1. Melinda,
      I was Tweeting with someone yesterday who said her muse was a scantily clad middle-age woman, spinning her panties on her finger, and dancing on the table!

      What would yours look like? Hmmm, this could make a cool blog!!! Stand by...

  4. It's critial what you're doing--working hard at learning an infinitely difficult craft.

    To simply write something and then self-publish it is tantamount to a non-musician buying a guitar and walking around the corner into a cafe, banging on the strings, and expecting everyone to think the resulting noise is music. As in music, few people have the talent to be great, or even good, writers.

    An I love the old woman and her raised middle finger, too.

    1. I'm not knocking self publishers, Skeptic. I was tempted myself - and may be one day again!
      I don't see us vs them - more everyone striving to be the best that we can...

      I know, I'm a kum-by-ya kinda girl.

  5. Oh Laura, I was having such difficulty getting to my Nanowrimo writing until your blog post! Thanks for the kick. And hey--don't they call it the SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS???

    1. Karen,
      Don't think I haven't been temped by the WANA train - you guys rock!
      One of these days....when I'm not writing the BOOK!

      Write on, girlfriend!

  6. Loved the blog Laura! I don't think I have a muse either. You do have to really really want to publish and work hard or it doesn't happen. It's definitely gonna happen for you lady. 🙂

  7. Laura, I used to get up before work to write but then allowed the day job to take me away from writing. Now that I'm writing again, I'm steadily working towards the "sweat". Thank you for an inspiring post!

  8. Laura,

    Great post. I'm one of those lucky people who can sit down and write. I'm doing nano for fun, and I've written over 30,000 words. It normally takes me about a month to complete my first draft at 90,000+ words and two months to re-write. I'm also re-writing the MS I just finished.

    When it comes to self-publishing, I may. My first novel got a very nice rejection from a major publishing house. The liked it a lot and liked my writing, but didn't think it had enought of a hook for today's market. They asked me to send my next MS when I finished. Another publisher Apologized profusely for not offering me a contract. Their readers liked it so much no one noticed that it didn’t meet their standard of the H/H meeting in the first five pages. If I don’t find a home for my first by January, I’ll self-publish it.

    1. Oh, Ella - so close!

      Are you sure you're targeting the right publisher for the genre? Could it be Women's Fiction more than romance? Do you have an agent? An agent could help you target the market. If you've had great rejections from publishers, it sounds like you could get an agent pretty easily.

      I envy you your writing speed - that's what I want for Christmas!!! I put in the sweat equity time, but I'm not a fast writer. Mostly because I hate major revision so much, that I'm very careful about writing it right to start with.

      I also suffer from plot-envy.

      So, for those who think I've got it made because I'm driven?

      NO ONE gets it all! And I'm okay with that.

  9. Hi Laura,
    I just read a quote that could be the tag line for your blog.
    “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” ~Jim Rohn
    That discipline is your sweat equity, girl!

  10. I think having a set time or getting up early or late or anything in a form of a writing schedule might get in the way of writing.
    I found that whenever I set a few hours aside for writing, I could not do it.
    My mind just goes blank and I suddenly find other much more pressing things to do, such as cleaning the sink.
    The shower is definitely one for me, because it is such a mind numbing, easy job where you feel like you don't have to think about much, except which way round the shampoo and conditioner is used.
    Of course if you have a deadline, you can't just doodle around and wait for the pages to fill but comparing your writing style to other writers is never a good idea as they work differently.


    1. Rich,
      Glad you at least found what helps move you through the block. It's different for everyone. Mine is getting out in nature, and occupying my brain with dumb things - like walking, or riding a bike. For some reason, that frees up the creative side. Weird how it works, huh?

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