How to Love Writing

“I hate writing. I love having written.” – Dorothy Parker

I’ve met a few people who are quick to say they love writing. They are sincere, happy people who tend to glow in the dark. People who eagerly sift through tornado-paths of literary devastation to find the one story that can threaten to replace your well-earned despair with un-warranted hope. I hate* those people.

I also hate writing. Okay, maybe that’s a little bit strong. How about this: I find it difficult to love writing.

Oh, there are moments when writing appears to be lovable. Like the moment when you first come up with a story idea. “I’m a genius!” And the moment when you sit down to start writing that story. “This is the best idea ever!” And the moment when your fingers line up like agreeable soldiers on the keyboard. “When I finish this novel I’ll finally have something to brag about at my high school reunion!”

But those aren’t really writing moments. They’re “anticipation of writing” moments. It’s easy to love writing when you’re approaching the desk. But when you actually begin…

Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap 🙂 tap tap tap tap tap.

Tap tap tap. Tap tap.

Tap…tap. 🙁

Crap.

To love writing, you have to love, or at least endure, lots of unlovable things. Like these:

  • Staring blankly at a computer monitor for long periods of time.
  • Sitting in a chair for long periods of time.
  • Standing at a standing desk for long periods of time in a half-hearted attempt to increase your life expectancy or impress your writing group friends.
  • Accepting the fact that your vocabulary is entirely…um…what’s the word? Small? Not big? Little? Wait…[searches thesaurus]…oh right, inadequate.
  • Waiting for the kids to fall asleep. Waiting for the spouse to stop bugging you to come to bed. Waiting for inspiration. Waiting for your fingers to obey your brain. Waiting for Twitter and Facebook to stop demanding your attention. Waiting for the voice in your head to stop shouting “You can’t write!”
  • Those moments when confidence and self-doubt occupy the very same space and stare at you like you’re supposed to know how that’s even possible.
  • Dirty dishes. Dirty clothes. Dirty children.
  • Lukewarm coffee. Stale donuts. Cheetos dust.
  • Friends who don’t understand you.
  • Friends who think they understand you because they wrote a poem in third grade and got a ribbon for it.
  • Friends who think you’re insane.
  • Friends who think you’re going to be a millionaire as soon as you finish your novel.
  • Insanity.
  • Hoping this novel will make you a millionaire.
  • Another writer’s success.
  • Another writer’s  failure.
  • Backaches. Heartaches. Truth aches.
  • Asteroid strikes. Al Qaeda. The zombie apocalypse.

And that’s just today’s list.

Let’s be honest. After all this, can you truly, sincerely say that you love writing? Can you?

Um…

Tap tap tap tap tap…

Er…

Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap…

Yeah.

Me, too. [Starts glowing in the dark.]

 

*I don’t really hate them. But I do find it difficult to love them. Which is exactly the same way I feel about writing. (See what I did there? Gosh, I loved writing that sentence. (See what I did there? I know. I deserve a ribbon.))

12 Replies to “How to Love Writing”

  1. So true. I often say that I love being a writer, and I love having written, but the process is not so enjoyable … until I get a couple of hours of genuine quiet time in which to write properly (maybe once a month!) and I remember just how much I do love it, how fulfilling it feels. I think its the tension that causes pain – the tug between what writing is to your spirit and your body, and what it is considered to be by everyone else in your life. It would be fine if you could separate yourself from all those considerations, but that is nearly impossible. Only when I manage to shut it all off do I reconnect with my love. Thank you for such an honest post.

  2. Writing is easy-peasy compared to editing. That is the time to buy the Sam’s Club bottle of aspirin. That being said, all those unlovable things have happened to me, plus my all time favorite: After having built up a head of steam and was really going for a week and a half, getting a bad case of the flu where I couldn’t even get up for a week. There went the mojo…

  3. I don’t hate writing…when I sit down to write, I am in a little world that I love. However, it’s the times when I’m not writing and I am constantly thinking “God my idea is terrible…” or even worse…

    “What are you working on at the moment?”
    “Well it’s about…(enter a brief description of your book here)”
    “Oh right! Like that Stephen King (or any other famous writer everyone has read at least once) novel I read a while back?”

    Then the sound of the erase button as you scrap all plans, cry and realise those hours you could have been in the pub, with your partner, watching television or doing anything of any use to anyone…have gone into nothing.

    1. The conversations between writers and non-writers can be quite entertaining, and by entertaining I mean “soul-destroying.” Here’s how I answer “What are you working on at the moment?” “How to kill a minor character who’s constantly asking the protagonist questions. Any ideas?”

  4. I’ve been enjoying your blogging for some time now, keep it coming as often as possible. I find your insight really helpful…

  5. I just wanted to say thank you for this post, because it honestly made my day. When I say I hate writing, people say: “No, you don’t. You love it. You’re good at it. Be quiet.” But they don’t know about the staring-at-screen-in-despair moments, when the cursor keeps blinking at you, waiting for you to type something amazing, and the words just don’t come out the way you want to. Or the days when you finish a huge section of writing and then you look at the clock…and realize, wow, it took me that long. Why am I so slow?

    Anyways, thank you. Happy writing!

  6. A bit late in commenting, but I too emphathize with you and the other commenters (and probably 98% of the writers out there) about the love-hate-but-not-hate relationship between us and our craft.

    Thanks! I think I’ll be browsing your other posts now. 🙂

  7. The voice in my head that shouts “You can’t write” is particularly loud at the moment, but there’s a beautiful quote a friend shared with me that (sometimes) helps to counter that voice, or at least make it tolerable, and I’d like to share it with you:
    “Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
    -Ira Glass

    Sorry for the long block of text, but I felt it was really worth sharing.

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