Updated: Jan 28, 2019
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
I tell my friends that I write, and after I do, they present me with the honorable title of being a "writer." Some have asked me to create stories using random objects on dining tables, and I do so in a heartbeat. Although, I must admit that whenever someone refers to me as a writer or a creative, I blush.
Do I write? Yes! Do I write enough to be considered a writer by my own standards?
More than writing itself, I incubate ideas in my mind and let them flourish. My characters are my children. They are breastfed with curiosity, desires, innocence, and trauma. Some of them have been with me for almost five years, and some are as old as yesterday.
If you’ve thought about characters and plots for so long, why haven’t you released an anthology or something? Why haven’t you published a novel? Your name as a playwright cowers at the
thought of Manhattan, how come?
That’s easy: writing is terrifying.
Writing is how you make yourself completely vulnerable without showing your face.
Your being is splayed out like a dissected frog in a biology classroom.
It’s fiction. How does that have anything to do with you?
Fiction stems solely from reality. Great fiction feels like it could be real somehow, no matter how absurd, and that’s mainly because part of it is.
When a writer accepts that most of their writing is quite personal, they fear the inevitability of the unsatisfactory first drafts. You heard it here first: First Drafts Always Suck. Reading something that carries part of our soul and realizing that it's awful is something like hell. It’s difficult to separate the storyline from the execution. More often than not, stories are awesome, but the way that they’re told can significantly undermine that.
When the writing style causes this type of dissonance, the writer must determine what to do next. Do they rewrite, or do they abandon their piece of work and do something else? More often than not, the answer is rewrite. Yes, the story might start to sting your brain and your imagination might beg for something else to happen. Listen to that and let your imagination wander through this new world. If you keep rewriting a story over and over, and your imagination sings love songs whenever particular scenes come to mind, keep those scenes and expand upon them. Write what you like.
That last paragraph poses another challenge entirely: actually writing. The fear of the piece of crap you’re about to turn out is enough to make any writer whimper behind their desk chair. The process of writing is tedious and requires much more brain power than any calculator can simulate. There’s no equation. It’s just you.
“I hate writing, I love having written.”
Ah, but yes! Looking back and seeing that you have written is a marvelous feeling! In the moment, you feel as though you’ve written the next Harry Potter, Phantom of the Opera, A Streetcar Named Desire… the feeling is divine. It isn’t until you go back after a week or so and realize that Tennessee Williams would probably pass out after reading the first few lines of your play.
That’s alright, though. Keep going!
You’re never going to catch the publishers’ and the greats’ attention if you don’t eventually write something good. Eventually, you will! Eventually!
Eventually sounds really far away, but the more you write, the closer it is.
With that, pull out your computer and write down a few lines. Think about something that's happened to you this past week, whether that be a situation or a conversation, and insert it into a fictional circumstance with fictional people. Open yourself up to the page.
Get out there and be the writer that you want to be.
That’s what I’m about to do... after one more episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.