I read a really great post on Cynthia Reese's blog today about how writing is like cooking. She makes a great analogy about the correct amount of "seasoning" -- especially with regard to backstory -- being crucial. Too much or too little can ruin a a great recipe...or book.
Not being much of a cook myself, I find my writing analogies drift more toward other areas. Like sex.
Yes, writing is like SEX.
It can be good, it can be mediocre, or it can be downright awful. But there's just something about it that keeps us coming back for more.
See, I'm talking more about the act of writing than the resulting [great literature/timeless prose/pure dreck] that comes from it. The physical act of grinding out the words, sweating and bumping and building to the climax, and then wrapping it all up in a satisfying package.
Like with sex, sometimes writing is overwhelmingly what's on your mind. Overshadowing every other thought you have, buzzing in the background, informing your every action. You can't wait to get to bed--um, the computer--to pour out every feeling, to exorcise every amazing plot point bubbling through your blood.
In other words, you are In The Mood. Marowr!
Writing comes fast an furious at times like these--the more so for any forced delay. Every obstacle Real Life puts in your way--the day job, the kids, the laundry that can't wait another second or everyone will have to go naked--becomes an exquisite form of foreplay. When you finally get a chance to sit down and make love to your book...er, I mean, type...the relief is overwhelming.
When a session like that is over, it's hard not to light up a cigarette and sigh in blissful contentment.
But we all know sex isn't always so urgent.
(Okay, I realize I could just be talking about women here.)
If we're honest, some days other things weigh on our minds, or we're just plain exhausted, or maybe getting hit with the hormones. Whatever the reason, the ol' body says, "Oh, come on. Seriously? No way."
But, have you ever noticed that, even when you don't feel very sexy at the start, sometimes just going through the motions for the other person's sake winds up paying off big time? You start off kind of slow, feeling almost virtuous for being so selfless, and before you know it...WHOA! That kind of worked.
And that...hey, that wasn't half-bad at all! Hmm...maybe you're not as tired as you thought you were after all....
Well, same goes with writing. Real life, feeling bad, hormones, etc.--they can all play a part in how inspired you are to sit down and produce the prose.
In other words, some days your muse needs a lot more seducing than others. ;)
So, go. Buy that muse some candy and flowers. Massage its feet, maybe offer a back rub. And tease your WIP a little while you're at it. Tickle it here and there, and see what pops up.
You might be surprised at the payoff.