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Do you enjoy writing?

September 3rd, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments
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Believe it or not, my primary reason for writing is not enjoyment. But I suspect that I’m not alone in that. History is littered with tortured writers, as those for whom writing is a party. Where do you fit in the spectrum?

Writing is hard going

I really hope he doesn't smoke

This fantastic image is entitled "Writer's Block" and comes from Drew Coffman over on Flicker. Click to see more.

Here’s some quotes for you:

Every writer I know has trouble writing.

Joseph Heller

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.

Gene Fowler

Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.

Lawrence Kasdan

I do not like to write – I like to have written.

Gloria Steinem

A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.

Thomas Mann

Writing is difficult. Im not even talking about writing well. Writing consistently is hard enough. Writer’s block and the fear of the blank page are well-documented horrors, as are trawling through page after page of copy to edit, and the dreaded redrafts (or rewrites). There seems to be a culture of writers feeling like crap – insecure, tortured souls at the mercy of their craft.

So why do it?

If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.

Lord Byron

The writer writes in order to teach himself, to understand himself, to satisfy himself; the publishing of his ideas, though it brings gratification, is a curious anticlimax.

Alfred Kazin

Let’s not get maudlin though. There is also a culture of inspiration, riding the rollercoaster of creativity with your muse at your side; of enthusiasm and passion. Al these things are reasons to enjoy writing of course, but it can’t be denied that there are certainly times where the thrill has escaped us. So what keeps us going at these times?

Compulsion, I think is the answer for some people. Even if writing makes them unhappy (at times), some would be unhappier still without it (my own reasons are similar to this), or at least feel the hole in their lives. Others feel they have something to give to the world, or something specific to say. Maybe it’s something that they always did – a family tradition. If someone out there has there own interesting reasons for writing, I’d love to hear them.

Do I Enjoy Writing?

All this is not to say that I don’t enjoy writing myself. I do. But there are conditions, and it’s kind of a love/hate thing.

When I’m into it, when I’m in the “flow” of writing, and the words are coming easily, I enjoy it. That’s rarer and rarer, as I don’t spend huge chunks of time writing. Mostly it’s time grabbed here and there.

When I’m in the midst of editing I also enjoy it. Chiseling away at words is very gratifying.

When I look back on a week and the word count is reasonable, I enjoy it; when it’s higher than average, I’m extremely satisfied. This is certainly attainable, and is what my writing mind lives for in lieu of long periods of writing flow.

But I’m vey stop/start (still. STILL!) and what I hate is that period of trying to get back into it. That period can be prolonged – over weeks, even if my reason for pausing in the first place was slight.

I hate knowing that I’ve got to try and get into something I haven’t touched in a while, or put all those notes I’ve made into practice, or start something from scratch. Those periods of starting or restarting are painful, and it’s then that I wonder if it might be easier to pack it all in (and, let’s face it, before i’ve even got started).

Don’t worry, I’m not going all tortured artist on you. I’m fully aware how easily such problems are solved (bloody get on with it). And with practice, those moments will get easier (right?) but in the meantime, grrr, they’re frustrating!

Do You Enjoy Writing?

There, that feels a lot better. Now that I’ve got that off my chest I will open the floor for people to do the same. Or you can show off about how writing spins you into a whirl of ecstasy, you lucky lucky thing!

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  • Craig

    Its compulsion more than anything.  Not so sound overly maniacal or anything, but writing can make you feel like a god, right?  A creator of worlds, where all the details are hammered out by you, and you have total control over everything (that is until you get published, and all the nerds start writing fan fic.)

    But also there is a big part of me that writes because, well, I am dissatisfied with the material that is out there.  Now, I’m not talking about the books of my favourite writers or anything, but mainly about films I guess.  And I dont want to sound arrogant or anything (after that God comment?  Heavens no!) but its just that after seeing so many downright atrocious films, I feel like I could, lets face it, do so much better.  Of course, the landscape of entertainment is changing.  It has changed for me over the past few years.  As niche as it may still be, and as frowned upon as it is, Video Games are becoming a far greater form of entertainment.  There are titles out there that are very well written, well performed, well programmed, and lets be honest, they are far more immersive than film.  Even the more linear games are more immersive, because you are controlling the character through their story.  Rather than just passively watching.  Games could be seen as a mid point then surely?  You can control the characters destiny (to a point) but you don’t have to go through the process of writing the world yourself.

    Back on point…  I write (and at times enjoy it) because I am creative.  I could not possibly imagine not writing, keeping all these idea’s locked in my head.

  • http://getmewriting.com Matt Roberts

    Plus – there are very few sci fi films out there (I know that’s your genre), especially of the space opera variety ,and even fewer great ones. The genre is much better served by games.

    Not sure what you mean by games writing as a mid-point – I assume you mean between novel and film? The script for a game can be many times that of a film

  • Craig

    Yeah, in terms of games, they aren’t just passive things that you watch (like films) and (granted, mainly with rpgs) you do get to influence the story in various ways depending upon your options.  But you dont have to go through the torturous act of writing it yourself.

    But yes, its true.  Sci-fi is still massively frowned upon.  Which I find annoying.  I mean, take a film like Sunshine, for example, excellent film, but its sci-fi, so many people may just dismiss it as such.  I like writing sci fi because it is a somewhat freeing genre, one in which you can explore various philosophical conditions.  Or just blow aliens up with lasers.