Frank Herbert quote

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Brad R. Torgersen
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Frank Herbert quote

Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Thu Sep 15, 2011 9:33 am

Frank Herbert wrote:A man is a fool not to put everything he has, at any given moment, into what he is creating. You're there now doing the thing on paper. You're not killing the goose, you're just producing an egg. So I don't worry about inspiration, or anything like that. It's a matter of just sitting down and working. I have never had the problem of a writing block. I've heard about it. I've felt reluctant to write on some days, for whole weeks, or sometimes even longer. I'd much rather go fishing, for example, or go sharpen pencils, or go swimming, or what not. But, later, coming back and reading what I have produced, I am unable to detect the difference between what came easily and when I had to sit down and say, "Well, now it's writing time and now I'll write." There's no difference on paper between the two.


Frank Herbert is best known as the author of Dune, the bestselling novel in science fiction history.
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Thu Sep 15, 2011 9:59 am

I believe it. When I reread my own works, I don't see the fits and stops and restarts that I know were there in the writing process. I see a continuous, planned narrative... pretty amazing considering I seldom plan them.

I think Heinlein wrote something similar about "Stranger": that there was a place where he put it down to work on something else; and that readers later all insisted they "knew" where the break was, but they all had different answers, and they all were wrong.
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby MJNL » Thu Sep 15, 2011 10:34 am

Great quote!

Definitely agree with it. You can force your neurons to fire. Writers block is something pros and wannabe pros can't afford to waste time on.

And I totally have motivational problems sometimes...but you've gotta work through that, too.
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Thu Sep 15, 2011 1:10 pm

I went over to my Dad's place to help him get some resurfacing supplies for his driveway. Afterward we had lunch, as as often happens, we got to talking about my writing. I told him about this quote, and he asked me if I agreed with it. I told him that it generally takes me 30 minutes to warm up out of the Sludge Zone. Before that, it feels like pulling teeth. But if I can just force myself to sit down and concentrate on the work for at least 30 minutes, things loosen up and I am eventually tapping happily on the keyboard.
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Thu Sep 15, 2011 1:14 pm

Brad R. Torgersen wrote:But if I can just force myself to sit down and concentrate on the work for at least 30 minutes, things loosen up and I am eventually tapping happily on the keyboard.


And wondering why I took so long, and what was wrong with me, and why would I want to do anything else but this?
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby soulmirror » Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:42 pm

I dunno ... probably creative folks may differ more in their approaches (or abilities, I'll concede) ... I could say that about drawing: start it when I'm not "in the mood" and it sucks me in, the energy's there by itself.

But drawing is pretty much trance-dance, human horses ridden by voodoo spirits, I can crank up the music when I draw or photoshop or whatever.

Writing though ... for me that takes thinking: I can't force it (at least not force it and feel like it's coming out as "art" and not "getting the homework assignment done") I used to think I could write while listening to my fav music ... until I realized that the writing has to build its own momentum and emotion ... and having music going imbues my writing with false emotion that was really the music acting on me, not me weaving it from the words ... (But others like having their music going, so different stoats for different folks there too)

I wish I had that discipline or that skill, to write with what is clearly the more professional (and career) approach, to write on demand. I'm better at it if I've really worked out an outline, then I agree, I can pretty much tell you what happens when the guy looks out the spaceship porthole and sees the ... etc.

But if I tried to sit down and imagine it from off the blank page? I know I'd end up with a shortcut, not an inspiration. Homework, not a piece of my Imagination or heart's longing.

Like I say, that's amateurism on my part though, I know that ... But it's like watching kids play, you don't inhibit their play (or their art) by saying "grow up, that's not how dragons fly (or look on paper if they're drawing)" ...

You let them play, and imagine ... and know that with passing time they'll grow up. wotf008
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby mattj » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:50 am

I wish I could do that. Sadly, I rarely get solid writing time. Usually, it goes:

Write.

Wife: Honey, can you XYZ?

Go XYZ. Write.

Kid#1: Daddy, you want to play cars with me?

Play. Write.

Kid#2: I forgot my homework instructions at school. Can you explain it to me?

Explain. Write.

Parents will also understand that the same thing happens when you want a little 1 on 1 time with your spouse.

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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby MJNL » Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:01 pm

Matt, you and the other parental folk have even less time to waste. So, I’d imagine you’ve probably trained yourself to do exactly what you’ve listed above. I didn’t see any “stare at the screen blankly” in there. Not having to wait 30min to get the ball rolling is a good thing! But I know what you mean, everyone wants a little more time to approach things exactly how they want to.
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby kyle » Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:08 pm

And also remember that a good chunk of your writing -- the working out characters, plot points, thinking through the implications of new ideas, etc. -- can, in fact, be done while doing XYZ for your spouse or while playing cars with the kid. That way, when you get back tot he screen, you can jump right in.

Which, incidentally, is not what I'm doing right now...

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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby soulmirror » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:15 am

kyle wrote:And also remember that a good chunk of your writing -- the working out characters, plot points, thinking through the implications of new ideas, etc. -- can, in fact, be done while doing XYZ for your spouse --


I imagine at least two of many scenarios, there:

"A penny for your thoughts," she whispered to him yearningly.

"Sorry, babe," he smiled. "It's at least six cents a word."

or

"Who is she?" she demanded, startling him from his distant thoughts. "The woman you're sitting there dreaming of, instead of me?"

"She's the high-priestess of the z'leeqix warrior-cult on jungle-kissed Venusia. Why?" he shrugged, unaware of the descending frying pan.
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby Jennifer Hicks » Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:43 am

I wish I could do that. Sadly, I rarely get solid writing time. Usually, it goes:


That's why I usually write late at night after my husband and three kids are asleep. I have not developed the skill of working amid constant distractions.
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby mattj » Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:22 pm

Well, I'd do it early in the AM, but that's my meditation time --- which is how I learned to work with constant distractions. wotf001

Jennifer Hicks wrote:
I wish I could do that. Sadly, I rarely get solid writing time. Usually, it goes:

That's why I usually write late at night after my husband and three kids are asleep. I have not developed the skill of working amid constant distractions.
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby James McRae » Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:34 pm

As an undergraduate, I went to a lecture/reading from a poet who was visiting our college (I believe it was Claire Bateman, but it has been a while and I've been punched in the head a lot since then). Someone asked her about how she dealt with writer's block, and her response was, "You'll never have writer's block so long as your standards are low enough." It has been my mantra ever since. Well, that and "there are no good writers, only good editors."
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby Harion » Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:03 am

mattj wrote:I wish I could do that. Sadly, I rarely get solid writing time. Usually, it goes:

Write.

Wife: Honey, can you XYZ?

Go XYZ. Write.

Kid#1: Daddy, you want to play cars with me?

Play. Write.

Kid#2: I forgot my homework instructions at school. Can you explain it to me?

Explain. Write.

Parents will also understand that the same thing happens when you want a little 1 on 1 time with your spouse.

Brad R. Torgersen wrote: I told him about this quote, and he asked me if I agreed with it. I told him that it generally takes me 30 minutes to warm up out of the Sludge Zone.

i'm relieved to know that i'm not the only writer who's a family man who suffers from such fate. i call it "life getting in the way of writing."
and so true about wanting one on one time with your spouse only to have the little tyke jump between you and scream for attention. it's all you can do to scream, "but you were just playing happily in a corner just a minute ago!"
times like those, i just tell my self that soon enough, my kid will be in high school and it'll be a miracle if i can even get him to sit down with us and spend time with us.
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby Grayson Morris » Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:51 am

kyle wrote:And also remember that a good chunk of your writing -- the working out characters, plot points, thinking through the implications of new ideas, etc. -- can, in fact, be done while doing XYZ for your spouse or while playing cars with the kid.

Amen. And thank god for that.

soulmirror wrote:"A penny for your thoughts," she whispered to him yearningly.

"Sorry, babe," he smiled. "It's at least six cents a word."

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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby soulmirror » Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:00 pm

Well, *blushing* thanks for the compliment!

Ten cents a word you say, hey? ¿Diez centavos por cada palabra, me dices? (Whoohoo! Just made $.70 !!! Do that about six times and I'll pay for my Q4 postage !!!)
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby Fobok1 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 6:59 pm

For me, I have trouble writing in long doses just in general. Not only because my disability makes typing for long stretches painful, which I admit is a problem, but from experience.

For so many years, looking for an outlet for my desire to write, I've taken to online text-based roleplaying games where I only write one paragraph at a time before waiting for someone else to respond. I've gotten into such a habit of writing in spurts that's how I write in general now.

On the other hand, when I do sit down to write in those spurts, I never have any trouble starting. Probably because I'm thinking of my stories a lot in between those small doses. (I don't have a spouse to wonder what I'm daydreaming about, however. ;))
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby Jess » Sat Sep 24, 2011 8:41 pm

Fobok1 wrote:For me, I have trouble writing in long doses just in general. Not only because my disability makes typing for long stretches painful, which I admit is a problem, but from experience.

For so many years, looking for an outlet for my desire to write, I've taken to online text-based roleplaying games where I only write one paragraph at a time before waiting for someone else to respond. I've gotten into such a habit of writing in spurts that's how I write in general now.

On the other hand, when I do sit down to write in those spurts, I never have any trouble starting. Probably because I'm thinking of my stories a lot in between those small doses. (I don't have a spouse to wonder what I'm daydreaming about, however. ;))

I used to build areas on a MUD, which amounts to an exercise in sentence- and paragraph-length descriptions. Interesting, often enjoyable, but frustrating from time to time, considering the restrictions the medium forces on you. (For instance, I might be inclined to think of an area as relatively linear, "beginning to end," but there's often nothing stopping an exploring character from doubling back, and room descriptions must feel natural from any direction. Also, you'd be surprised how many hallways and corridors there are in the world!)

Hmm. I'm not sure there was a point to all that. I mean, yes, it amounted to a bunch of short bursts of writing, but I usually did a good bit at a time, so it wasn't like that was how I worked on them.

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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby bobsandiego » Fri May 18, 2012 1:52 pm

I've long maintained the hardest part fo writing is 'Butt to chairm fingers to keyboard.' Though I have had a bout of writers block a period stretching from about 1983 through 1988 where I had few, nearly zero, story ideas at all. By the end of that period I had literally given up the idea that I was capable of writing.
Then my life changed - stress was lifted, and the flood gates opened and idea have been common ever since.
If I sit down and I find that after I have gotten started, it's that getting started that can be so hard, much easier to vacuum the cat, if I find that the wirting is difficult and troublesome it's because I'm writing something wrong, that i don;t understand what it is I'm supposed to be doing.

there, that's my ramble
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby Isto » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:02 am

bobsandiego wrote:I've long maintained the hardest part fo writing is 'Butt to chairm fingers to keyboard.' Though I have had a bout of writers block a period stretching from about 1983 through 1988 where I had few, nearly zero, story ideas at all. By the end of that period I had literally given up the idea that I was capable of writing.
Then my life changed - stress was lifted, and the flood gates opened and idea have been common ever since.
If I sit down and I find that after I have gotten started, it's that getting started that can be so hard, much easier to vacuum the cat, if I find that the wirting is difficult and troublesome it's because I'm writing something wrong, that i don;t understand what it is I'm supposed to be doing.

there, that's my ramble


As with all things, there is no one answer for every individual. My hubby gets grumpy when he writes and I know to leave him alone, keep the house quiet, and avoid the room he's in. Really grumpy. When I'm writing, I'm at my happiest. I can write with the radio on, but I can't keep 'the flow' going by constant spousal interruptions. I had my first writer's block very recently. Travel and sickness and obligations disrupted my writing pattern. I just went blank. What I did write I THOUGHT was crap. When I go back to it now to pick up the pieces, I find it wasn't... though it was a bit of a jumble. A little re-org and it was fine. I can now sympathize with those having writer's block. Stress is the big problem. And the more you stress out about not writing, the more stress you put yourself under. Keep writing. If you're not inspired, write a diary or notebook. The experience itself can be tapped for a difficult period in a character's life. As Miles would say, 'Forward Momentum'.
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Re: Frank Herbert quote

Postby LDWriter2 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:05 pm

Interesting quote and makes sense. :)


I have had writer's block when it came to new ideas but it lasted only a few weeks and I had older stories to work on-probably a novel or two--so I didn't worry about no new ideas but since then ideas unbidden at times and sometimes too many at once.
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