Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In Which I Learn a Writing Lesson from Star Wars Legos

I'm a tidal-wave writer*.

My son is a tidal-wave Lego builder.

In other words, we work feverishly on a project until we're done and it's hard to get us to think about anything else while the project is in motion.

I've seen the similarities the last few days watching my son react to the five boxes of Legos he received as birthday presents. He's been manic. Absolutely manic. Every waking moment he's not at school, he's hunched over his Lego sets, building, building.

He gets crabby. I remember last year after his birthday we actually had to remove the Legos and hide them for awhile (until he forgot about them) because he was impossible to live with. He was so focused, not being able to find a piece among the rubble spread out on the floor was a knife to his heart. Tears, screaming, accusations: "Everybody always loses my Legos!"

I've noticed improvements this year. He's maturing. Still, he gets crabby occasionally. Partly because he's tired. He's up at the crack of dawn so he'll have time to work on Legos before school. *sigh*

The problem is, I know where he gets this manic-bent from. When it comes to writing, I'm focused, too. I push through exhaustion just to stay up that extra half an hour to finish writing a chapter. The manuscript is often on my mind, even when I'm not physically sitting at the computer.

And crabbiness? That's something I really have to watch, because it's an easy trap to fall into. Say, if my writing time is interrupted (heaven forbid!), or I can't meet my goals for the day. I've seen this pattern in myself. It's good to be vigilant against it. Thankfully, seeing the pattern is a step in the right direction to correcting it. I'm trying to be better about pacing myself, living other parts of life to the fullest, enjoying my family and other non-writing activities. Still, it takes concentrated effort to pull myself away from THE BOOK.

You may or may not have noticed, I haven't written a Story-A-Week in awhile. I'm blaming it on the fact that I'm a tidal-wave writer, because while rewriting/retyping this story, my brain doesn't have the capacity to think of other stories. It's been my stumbling block all year with this particular challenge.

But there is an end in sight. I'm over 50,000-words into my rewrite (rewrite number three, baby! Third time's the charm? ... probably not), which means I'm almost at the finish (for this round).

I already have a wonderful beta-reader prepped and ready to look at it. And once that baby's sent off, I have some breathing space. Which means I'm focusing on a critique for another lovely writing buddy AND writing short stories so I stay up on my writing game.

That's the plan.

So, I want to know ... how are you as a writer (if you are a writer)? Do you remain balanced at all times, or is it a struggle? If you're not a writer, what's your personality with other big projects?

*I first heard the phrase "tidal-wave writer" from Julie. I love it, Julie! I've thought of myself that way ever since!


  1. I love that expression - and you go girl. 50,000 words into the rewrite is a fab effort.

    On the Lego front, I have to say nothing beats Harry Potter lego. I once spent an entire Boxing Day putting together Dumbledore's office for my daughter, and if I'm truthful, I think I played with it more than she did!

  2. Donna,
    ha ha! That's awesome!! We haven't started on the Harry Potter sets yet, but I'm sure once he starts reading the books we'll be hooked on the Legos, as well. :)


  3. Whoa! Great work! That's a milestone for sure!

    Cute pictures of Gabe. My bro's are into Legos as well.

  4. Amy, I am EXACTLY like that. I have a hard time not letting my manuscripts consume me. I've heard people say you should give in to that, you should just go with the flow, but I disagree. I'm glad I'm not the only one struggling to overcome my addiction:)

  5. Legos are one of the top toys in the world - according to my husband. He went to Europe for a job interview and brought gifts home for our kids...legos. Haha!

    Nice analogy. :)

  6. That describes me to a tee. And my son is the same way about reading as I am, and I finally understand how annoying it is!

    I think a lot of writers obsess, it is part of being able to care enough about a story to stay at the keyboard for all the hundreds of hours it takes to get the thing just right.

    That doesn't mean that writers should give in to the obsession; you still have to have priorities, and for me the family comes first. I could be happy not writing, but I couldn't be happy if I didn't have my family. Thanks for sharing, Amy!

  7. I totally struggle with it, too! Although I'm not as fast as I should be . . . I waste time, not wanting to take the plunge, but once I do, it's REALLY hard to break away.

  8. I used to be like this, but I'm trying to not let my writing take over my life. But I have more time in my day than you, Amy, so it's easier for me to do that. It doesn't mean I'm not thinking about my characters 24/7. I am. Especially the hot make out scenes. :)

    Okay, maybe part of the reason for this is because I'm working on my first draft. I'm not very good at writing first drafts. Once I start on revisions, the world ceases to exist.

    Good luck with your current round of revisions. :D

  9. I love the term tidal wave writer! I tend to be the same although I limit myself on my word count so I wont go overboard. My sons have actually cataloged their legos in bins with drawers. ;) Yeah it gets serious. lol.

  10. Love that expression! I struggle with the balance issue too...especially this month. YiKes!
    btw, my son is totally into Star Wars Legos, too!

  11. great title, amy!

    engaging post, great analogy, and super cute pic of gabe.

    i'm tidal wave in all things--oddly enough, now that i think of it, even *housework* . . .

  12. What I wanna know - is how you prep a beta reader?!? :-)

  13. Ha ha, Sara. My version of prepping a beta reader is: "Are you sure you want to do this? Are you sure? Are you positive? Are you absolutely sure because I don't want to force anything on you? Are you sure? Are you sure?"

    If they answer all those questions in the affirmative, then they're prepped. ;)


  14. Legos are the best toy ever ... and I still obsess over all my pieces to the point that I really can't stand the kids playing with my Legos. :)

    Tidal-wave writer, tidal-wave project finisher ... sounds like a perfect description.

  15. I'm have the same problem. I'm "Night Writer" because if my kids are asleep, they can't interrupt me.

  16. And thank you for interrupting your work to read mine!


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