Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Art of Juggling


You know, I’ve always admired the coordination and quick reflexes of an accomplished juggler. Whether they keep pins flying or balls spinning or even that one guy who juggles sharp weapons, a good juggler is amazing to watch.

It dawned on me the other day that in our own way, successful writers have become accomplished jugglers in their own right. Oh, we don’t keep bright colored balls circling overhead as we write. However, we do manage to juggle all the demands that interfere with the time we need to spend planted in front of our computers, letting our muse whisper words in our ear. Okay, most of the time, no one is whispering anything except that the laundry needs folding or it’s time to start dinner, and on a lot of days, getting those words down on paper is like pulling teeth.

But most writers I know are amazingly committed people and somehow manage to get it all done—the laundry, the meals, the housework, their other job, if they have one—and yet still make their deadlines, get their copyedits and revisions done on time. Oh, yeah, then there is the promotional stuff and the need to come up with new ideas and the research.

Can you see all those balls flying through the air yet?

And of course, there are all of the components of good writing that we have to keep in mind with every word we choose, each sentence we craft, each paragraph we build, each story we tell. Point of view, internal conflict, story arcs, choosing the right names for our characters (a real time consumer for me!), sensuality, grammar, spelling, back story, world building—the list seems endless.

But here’s the amazing thing: we do it. We pick up the balls and somehow start them all flying. Of course we occasionally drop one, but that’s what revisions are all about. For the most part, we keep those spheres whirling in intricate arcs, using our creative energy to make patterns that have never existed until our fingers touch the keyboard and practice the amazing feat that is good writing!

I know Wednesday is for questions of all kinds, so here’s mine: What tricks have you learned to help keep your juggling skills sharp?


Anonymous said...

Ack! I had a comment, Alexis, but the new blogger defeated me!

Anyway, love the juggling image.

JoAnn Ross said...

I always think of it as spinning plates, which used to be my favorite part of the circus, go figure, but the concept's the same.

Hmmm. How do I do it? Fear of missing a deadline -- and my pub spot and money -- is a powerful motivator. lol. Seriously, I just keep on keeping on without analyzing the process, though I do wonder if this juggling is easier for women writers, given that we tend to be more natural multi-taskers than men anyway.

Nancy Morse said...

Juggling in the morning, juggling in the evening, juggling at supper time.

How do you keep the juggling skills sharp? Keep juggling!

Alexis Morgan said...

I love the spinning plates image, too--and it's so true!
You know, I have friends (especially non-writers) who can't imagine how I work (albeit parttime) and still get my writing done. Or the ones who ask when I can possibly find time to read. I tell them I don't find time, I make time for the things that important for me.
My career as a writer is important to me, so I set goals and do my best to accomplish them--whether it's a deadline for a manuscript or learning how to post a blog.

Anonymous said...

And we do it without a wife. :~)

Alexis Morgan said...

Now isn't that the truth?