Long time ago, one of my long-distance writing buddies said it could take him up to forty-five minutes to get a sentence just right. I've seen a picture of him. He doesn't do what I do during those forty-five minutes of word-picking. He's too skinny.
I pace and eat. Eat and pace. Pace to the kitchen for something to eat, and eat my way back to the keyboard. Heaven help me.
Where on God's green earth did I get the idea that words flow magically from a brain drugged on peanuts and pork rinds? Pop the top on a soda and discover the perfect synonym. Bypass the apples for the chocolate pudding, and the next scene will fly from my fingers to the computer's hard drive in record time. Throw in some whipped cream, and the scene will even come out perfect on the first try!
Uh-huh. Yeah, right.
But I have to admit, my writing has improved, although the improvement has nothing to do with stuffing my face. It has to do with actually taking the time during the edit to get a sentence just right. And studying books about writing. And noticing how successful novelists do things.
Another friend of mine is wondering when the literary light bulb will illuminate her work, when she'll finally get it. Usually, I just try to be encouraging: "It'll come. Don't quit. Keep trying." Now that my light is shining a bit more, I realize I'll have to alter my advice to my friend: "It'll come. Don't quit. Keep trying. Stay out of the kitchen!"