The Writing Colonic

I heard a description a while back (and I of course cannot remember who tossed this little tidbit to the winds of my imagination) that writers have an amount of shit writing inside of them, and that the only way to get to the good stuff is to pass all of the shit. The way to do that is to basically give yourself a writing colonic.

Try not to laugh. I dare you.

Before you convulse like this baby at the word “colonic,” allow me to esplainy. First, I’m not sure if I necessarily agree with the idea that I have a predetermined amount of shite in my writing digestive tract that has to come out before I write anything worth reading. However, I think this mystery poo-metaphor person does have a point.


Very few people (if any at all) pen their first ever novel and have it become their opus, their master work, the salient, salable, and dare we say profitable breakthrough into publishing. This isn’t to say that first novels can’t be successful — just that often it’s the books that come after them that end up being better quality.

Writing is an art, yes, but it’s also a learned skill. And the way to learn it, gentle viewers, is only to do it. A lot. In that sense, I agree with poo-metaphor dude. (I shall henceforth refer to him as “Poom.”) A lot of the writing we do to develop our craft is shite. Or it falls into the category of “I like it, but please gawd don’t ever let anyone else see it…ever ever ever ever ever.”

I am certain that if I were to ever stumble upon the 30-40 pages of handwritten sci-fi that emerged from my 9-year-old writing tract, I would laugh until I cried and then laugh some more. I also have gone back and read my fantasy novel I wrote in high school, thinking how cute it was that everything was so tidy and clean for the first hundred pages, and only seeing glimmers of what I now do often — play gross out because fighting vampires is gonna be a bloody mess (unless you’re Buffy — Joss’s zing-poof vamps were no muss, no fuss).

To sum that up, I definitely had some crap in me that needed to be flushed out. There’s probably still some in there. The point is, gentle viewers, that practice may not make perfect, but it will at least make it so what comes out of you isn’t shite most of the time.

I don’t think there is any predestination involved with how much practice it takes to write something really good. I also think writers flock to poo metaphors almost as much as Poom (Writer’s block? Might as well say you’re verbally constipated). I think NaNo helps for this sort of thing though. Even if your NaNo novel ends up in That Drawer, it still forced you to push out a novel, which is good practice. It also gave you a deadline. Also good practice.

So while I don’t 100% agree with Poom, I do agree that in order for us to write the best that we can, we need to write a lot. Get to it, everybody. 🙂

PS: I have been getting a few comments about my “gentle viewers” reference. It is a throwback to (what else?) one of my favorite Buffy episodes of season 7, in which Andrew Wells entertains the world with some true hilarity and word confusion, such as the following.

Amanda: Um, Faith killed a volcanologist.
Andrew: Silly, silly Amanda. Why would she kill someone who studies Vulcans?

I leave you with this, gentle viewers. Enjoy!


About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on November 13, 2011, in writing process and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. O.M.G. That was awesome. You had me at the spasming baby, kept me laughing with Poom, and then gut-punched me with the Buffy clip. Having never watched an episode of Buffy before, I think I must be popping over to The Pirate Bay (arr, I be a pirate) and DLing some to watch after I finish up the Battlestar Galactica/Caprica marathon run.

    But seriously, great post. Very apt, and I can say with confidence, in keeping with Poom, that I’m constipated and in need of a colonic.

    And I never, ever, thought I’d say that aloud, much less in cyberspace. Sigh.

    • Buffy is awesome. 😀 I recommend watching from the beginning, although the first season (only 13 episodes) is a bit campy and low budget, but if you’re not hooked by the middle of season 2, I will eat my manuscript.

      Thank you very much for the comment! I appreciate it — and I never thought I would talk about colonics and Poom in public either. The things we do for the craft.

  2. I laughed the first, second and third time I tried keeping a straight face — that baby is damn funny.

    But onto the ‘writing’ point of your post, i’ve been writing books ever since I was 5. While I can’t remember what I wrote in those books, I do remember that I wrote my first novel when I was 12. In real facts, that translates to 29,000 words (a novella) and some packaged piece of (I’ll call it your word) poom I’m not too keen to read.

    Then I tried a few more. I guess all those pooms helped me learn better tips for when it came to my current, serious novel.

    • I know! I still can’t watch that without cracking up. I watched it about twenty times the first time I saw it.

      In the spirit of Poom, I definitely agree that it helps. 😀

  3. You sure know how to make these posts funny!

    But I agree, practice is so important when it comes to telling a story. I guess it’s also like cooking – the first time you make a dish, there’s something that’s bound to be amiss. Too much salt, not enough sauce etc. But as you cook the dish again and try new ones, you develop your own style that makes you comfortable. You pick up new skills and learn how to avoid making the same mistakes again and again!

    Speaking of NaNo, I hit 50k not too long ago. Doesn’t mean I’m done…I’m aiming for a higher word count this year! Boo-yah!

    • Holy crap, 50k! That’s amazing.

      Someone in my writing group is there too. I’ve had too many double shifts lately to plow through as much of my word count as I would like, but I’m hoping to tackle a lot of that today. 😀

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