An unfortunate truth

There’s this mystique about writers. People tend to romanticise both the person, and what said person does. A writer is apparently someone who experiences life’s highs and lows, and writes about said experiences in fits of divine inspiration.

This wasn’t true when the Romantics were still around (up yours, Coleridge) and it sure as hell isn’t true now. Sure, every now and then you get a Hemingway, who goes out and gets shitfaced every night, beds countless women and rubs shoulders with the both lowlifes and the pinnacles of humanity.

But the unfortunate truth is that the remaining 99.9% of writers are exceptionally dull people. Sure, they may be witty, and they might have great insight into the human condition, but the simple fact of the matter is that they spend most of their time writing.

Writing, for the spectator, is not exactly riveting stuff.

It also isn’t as straightforward as it would seem. The romantic view of the writer would have you believe that writers run around being scandalous and profound, and then they pound out a few thousand words in between shags. If that were true, my life would be more interesting than it currently is, let me tell you.

Writing isn’t just sitting down and writing something, then sending it off to be admired by intellectuals and other odd creatures. No, writing is writing something, thinking it’s dreadful, then rewriting it, and finding it marginally less dreadful. This process is then completed until you really can’t stretch your deadline any further, and you have to subject your editor to it.

The first rule of Lit Club is that you don’t talk about Lit Club (because it’s so fucking boring). The second rule of Lit Club is that first drafts always suck.

There aren’t any more rules, because whoever was writing them had to get back to writing because they had a deadline looming. However, if said person had continued, they would have informed us that the third rule of Lit Club is that inspiration doesn’t exist. A writer can’t wait for this mythical being to strike to start writing. You might have a fantastic idea for a plot, or a character, or whatever, but that’s just an idea. That’s about as far as ‘inspiration’ goes. The rest is all perspiration: forcing yourself to sit down and just write the damn story.

You keep writing the damn story, even if you get stuck. Even if you think it’s the worst dreck to grace the page/monitor. Even if you would rather be doing something else.

All in all, it’s not exactly glamorous, and it’s probably one of the least glamorous jobs ever. This doesn’t mean you should stop writing, though. In fact, you should keep writing. Even if you’re not hit by inspiration, and even if you don’t like what you’re writing. That’s just part of the process.

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1 Comment

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One response to “An unfortunate truth

  1. Sad but true. But the alternative – not writing – would be so much worse.

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