Home > Life, Work-related, Writing and Poetry > Whether Ready or Not

Whether Ready or Not


“Ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred… Ready or not, here I come.”

That’s how most of us remember playing Hide and Seek; a bunch of giggling and squealing kids racing around, desperate for a hiding place, one slightly peeking “it” person with head buried—not too seriously—within her arms against a tree/wall, and an anticipated thrill of the hunt.

Being a writer is very much like that game played during childhood. We never forget the rules of the game. We continue to chase, with the anticipation of the hunt, counting days instead of seconds until we hear back from a publication about a submission, and squealing with delight when we make a connection with an editor who likes our material.

We understand that, sooner or later, we’ll get caught peeking when we shouldn’t. Editors tend to frown on those writers whose patience runs out before their manuscripts have had time to go through the editorial process. The ability to wait without fussing keeps editors happy.

The game is played the same way, regardless of which aspect we’re facing.

The game parameters that cover territory available for play are decided first. For instance, if we’re doing a preliminary work-up for a new story, novel, essay, or other lengthy prose piece, certain devices and work gets done first. Synopses, character studies, full outlines and the like are usually thought out to some degree before actual writing begins. It’s understood that these will change as writing continues.

Some writers, like me, have done preliminary work in their heads and will wait until after their writing begins before nailing down specifics in an outline. Other writers jot down entire scenes as they pop into the mind and string those scenes together into a loose story later, as a kind of first draft. However the writer chooses to design their work requires planning, whether subconscious or not.

During the writing process, bits of research necessary to the story can be as wily as any good Hide and Seek player. Winkling out the precise information needed can be tricky and time consuming; like racing from one likely hidey hole to another, looking for the last kid hiding. It takes forethought and planning about the likeliest search pattern to dispel one’s frustration in the search.

Once all the players are accounted for within the writing search, a huge chunk of the work is completed. That chunk, comprised of precise words and phrases, information for accuracy, and the most effective organization of the material, determines the rest of the hunt.

Polishing the copy, finding the best markets for submission, whether to agent or publication, and writing either query letters or cover letters take the writer to that moment of true anticipation about possible outcomes. Soon only patience and distraction will take over. A need to write something else will emerge to move the writer back to the keyboard.

Playing Hide and Seek this way never grows dull. It can be exasperating, tedious, inexplicably easy, and all stages in between, but never really dull. Perhaps that’s why those of us who knew from an early age that they needed to write can never put it away. The game hides within us, seeking expression, whether anyone ever reads our words or not. We must still play.


  1. March 12, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Interesting analogy. I often know my topic but search for what to write. Then it magically comes to me and I type away.


    • claudsy
      March 12, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      When I sat down this morning to put together a post, I flashed on a time when cousins and I would play H & S and Red Light, Green Light in my grandparents huge yard. There were always so many places to hide, some obvious, others not so much. It hit me how like that was to how I and others have likened their writing process. It’s always lovely when a piece flows like water from your fingertips, all the metaphors and similes in place, alliteration that sounds as if you’ve labored for hours on each one, and profound lyricism that comes off as monumentally wise.

      It doesn’t happen often for any writer, I don’t think, but when it does, it’s bliss. Those are the ones that make me feel like I must have channeled someone from the past. I couldn’t possibly have come up with that on my own.

      Wishing you great times at the keyboard and profound personal truths. Blessings.


  2. March 13, 2012 at 7:35 am

    I find that writing projects do follow a plan but that plan tends to morph depending on.. well, a lot of variables. I may have it all in my head (wonderful!) or only one aspect, such as a notion for a story, but no plot. I’m wrangling with that now. Certain elements are eluding me, out there hiding in the bushes of my childhood neighborhood…

    • claudsy
      March 13, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      First, thank you for commenting, Eloise. Like many, I’m what’s known as an organic writer. I have an idea and generally take the quickest path to getting that idea down on paper.

      I use the rush and type method. Only after I get down the immediate idea, do I stop long enough to figure out what the story or essay is really all about. It might start with a mental image, the memory of a sound and the resulting emotion, or any number of other aspects of a story.

      One thing that helps me more than anything, when I haven’t quite thought through a plot, characterization, etc., is to talk with someone else, usually another artist or writer. We brainstorm the idea. The result is a sense of urgency that surrounds the main character and problems for that character that I might never have thought of without the brainstorming.

      And I have as much of a creative kick-start if I’m brainstorming with another writer about her/his story. Creative juices started flooding the brain with energy and drive. It’s great.

      Good luck with you projects, whatever they might be.


      • March 14, 2012 at 6:25 am

        Thanks Claudsy. I love the description “rush and type”. I do the same – get those slippery thoughts down before they slide away!

      • claudsy
        March 14, 2012 at 10:55 am

        I hate those times when I’m just not fast enough to outpace the distraction long enough to get the idea down. So frustrating.

  3. March 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    I could benefit from more planning with my stories, thank you for the reminder and the really great metaphor, Clauds.

    • claudsy
      March 13, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      Most of the planning I do is after I finish the rough draft. Until then, I’m merely writing down the movie that’s playing in my head. Poetry is much the same for me.


      • March 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm

        Hmm it’s interesting how many different styles and processes of writer in the world, huh. 🙂

      • claudsy
        March 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm


      • March 13, 2012 at 9:51 pm


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