I’ve been reading a few books and not a few articles about the writing process. I tend to do that when I’m not writing for one reason or another, since it keeps me connected and eventually pulls me back.
A fair number of these articles and books, however, have some advice, or ideas about who or why people should be writing that just annoy the heck out of me.
It’s a massive pet peeve that I thought I would enjoy discussing here.
These authors or bloggers or critics generally make statements along the following line:
“If you don’t find a huge amount of joy sitting down to write, you aren’t a writer and you shouldn’t do it”
Bollocks. Just bollocks. In fact, I’ll even say BULLSHIT. Pardon my french. I am capable of throwing a few french curses too, if you wish.
(To any british readers out there, I’m not british, but bollocks just felt right. I’m using it.)
Let’s talk about it.
I’m about to say something that many writers I know would never admit out loud.
I hate writing.
Let me expand on that.
I hate sitting my butt down in a chair and facing a blank screen. I hate outlining and trying to figure out my characters and my plot. I really hate getting stuck mid paragraph hunting for the right work. I cringe at the thought of sitting down and *gasp* revising my novel. I quake in fear at letting someone read the words that I put on a page (whether it be paper or electron).
This isn’t 100% universal of course, sometimes I have a lot of fun writing. Sometimes I fall into “the zone” and I could lose myself as I type the words. Sometimes, it’s heavenly to be able to sit with a friends, having a nice cold beer and tossing ideas back and forth. I thoroughly enjoy tossing my ideas in my wife’s direction to see what bounces back.
On the whole, however, writing is painful, anxiety inducing and sometimes stresses me out.
So why do I do it?
Let me answer that very important question. There are two very important answers.
First: I do it because I have to.
I can go weeks and months without writing, but when I do, I’m always thinking about it and what I should do. I feel vaguely ashamed and that shame does not go away until I sit my butt down and put words to a page.
I’ve gone over a decade without writing. I ran in fear of my “writing block”. I ran into a traumatic time and one of the results is that I no longer felt that I could write. I was wrong, of course, we can ALWAYS write and I now know that there really isn’t any such thing as a real “writer’s block”. It took a decade for me to figure that out, but until I did, I was not a whole person.
It doesn’t matter how long I stop, I know I’ll always come back.
Second: I do it because I love what it leads to.
Look, this isn’t an ego thing and I’ll state write now that I have no idea if my writing is good or bad. My friends and family tell me it’s good but that’s not something that’s without bias so I take it in the spirit it’s offered. A few of my friends who DO write enjoy my writing, and I take their suggestions and criticism quite seriously.
In the end though, I love what I write. I really enjoy seeing it done. I really get a lot of joy when I put up another segment of The Expensive Universal Instrument. I really LOVED when I finished the first draft of Revenant. I felt fulfilled when I finished “Kenneth” and sent it in, for better or worse.
If someone reads something I wrote and enjoys it, it’s a big bonus too.
Writing to me seems to be like working out, or playing guitar. I love how I feel after a really good workout. I love being able to play a song well on my guitar (I should really pick it up again). I feel good when I have done those things, but it’s really difficult and painful to actually START a workout or sit down practice scales or fingering exercises.
In conclusion, to all you writers out there who are struggling and depressed: Keep doing it. If someone says you should stop because you don’t seem to enjoy it, give them the finger and put out the best story you can.
To the readers out there, whether you read my stuff or not, I hope you all realize that most of us don’t fart rainbows and spew unicorns and glitter when we write. It’s much more likely that it’s a struggle and doing it well is hard work. It’s exposing ourselves to rejection and stress and it eats at us.
We might do it for love, but we definitely do it because we have to.