Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

A Writer’s Internal Dialog

May 22nd, 2012

DAY 1: You really need to write a new short story. Don’t get anxious about it. It’s not going to be that hard. It’s the second in a series, after all. You know the protagonist and the story world. So just figure out a plot!

Yeah, okay. But I think today I should work on the website.

DAY 2: You really need to do some work on that story.

Okay, okay! I’ll do some brainstorming. Some random writing. That’s good, right? There! That’s like a thousand words, with ideas and everything! Good enough, for now.

You only spent an hour on it.

And your point is?

DAY 3: Go do some more brainstorming on the story. Develop those ideas you had yesterday. They’re good!

They are good. And random writing isn’t too hard. I can crank up my word count easily this way. Hold on, I need to check my email. Hey, I wonder if anybody responded to my post on facebook? Hey look, I’ve done two hundred words already. Only eight hundred to go. Why don’t more people talk to me on twitter? I am too working. How about if I set an alarm to go off ten minutes from now, and I won’t stop writing for those ten minutes, no matter what stupid ideas I type! Huh? You want me do another ten minutes?

DAY 4: Okay. You’ve got a lot of useful ideas from your brainstorming sessions. Now you need to put together a coherent backstory, so you understand what’s going on.

Can I write by hand?

Whatever works.

Okay, I’m writing by hand.

Are you done already?

DAY 5: That was a pretty good job bringing together the back story, and you’ve got a good grasp of the plot. But there aren’t any scenes. Let’s just see what happens if you try Write-or–


Write-or-Die. It doesn’t matter what you write, just get some words down.

Okay, okay! There! Thirteen hundred words – though they’re not the right words.

Better than nothing.

DAY 6: Time for you to start the actual story.

I tried. I’m not getting anywhere.

Try this: break it down. Write out a goal, a theme, a concept, and then a short plot summary.

Uh, okay. Maybe I can do that…

Hey, it’s been a while. What are you doing?

I’m writing the story! As soon as I started on the plot summary, it just happened! I found myself writing the story, with scenes and everything! 2700 words!


They’re not the right words.

Never mind.

DAY 7: Okay, you’ve got all the parts figured out, you’ve got everything you need to pull together a solid draft. Go for it!

I don’t feel like writing today. I AM trying! There. I did the opening. That’s the hardest part, right? And it’s enough for today.

DAY 8: Let’s pretend yesterday didn’t happen. Today you’re going to sit down and make this story real—

Leave me alone! I decided to take my laptop into a different room and now everything’s working. I know what I’m doing. I’m into it…

There! I’m done! A solid draft and it’s good! Whoa … did nine hours just go by?

Congratulations on finishing the draft! Tomorrow, you revise.

Posted on: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012 at 6:41 pm
Categories: Writing.
Tags: ,

4 Responses to “A Writer’s Internal Dialog”

  1. Ilima Says:

    Ha! I’ve been there…

  2. Toby Neal Says:

    Funny! And true to life.
    Believe it or not your brain is working on the story all along the way. And thats why it comes out the way it finally does. Neural circuitry is just that… circuitous.

  3. Joe Vasicek Says:

    Spot on! Happens to me all the time.

    What’s really annoying is when the first voice has an epiphany, knows exactly where the story is supposed to go–but the second voice suddenly feels an urge to take a walk. Gah!

  4. Linda Says:

    For me, it’s that moment when I choose to go mow the lawn instead of putting in a good writing session…