By Cynthia Ray
A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell, and was shown each place. As the writer descended into the fiery pits of hell, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.
“Oh no,” said the writer. “Let me see heaven now.”
A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.
“Wait a minute,” said the writer. “This is just as bad as hell!”
“Oh no, it’s not,” replied an unseen voice. “Here, your work gets published.”
Aw, c’mon. Is writing really that bad? YES. It is probably one of the most difficult things you will ever do. Seriously, is writing that bad? NO. It is probably one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.
Obviously, we writers have a hard time telling heaven from hell. An author friend of mine, Michael Maciel, says “One thing I’ve learned about writing is that you can’t wait until you’re in the mood. Writing is less about feeling and timing than it is about sheer force of will.”
Wait a minute. That doesn’t sound like much fun either. Force of will? We want to write. It’s what we were born for, so why do we have to FORCE ourselves to sit down in front of the computer and start tapping keys? Or, in the case of the Luddites among us, pick up pen and paper.
Writing a story is a lot like having a baby. The story gestates inside of you until it just has to come out. You look forward to cuddling that baby in your arms, but you sure as hell don’t look forward to enduring hours of painful contractions.
Writing this blog is like that for me. I dont worry about it until about two weeks before it is due; then I begin to chew on topics, rejecting one after another, until there are one or two left that resonate with me. A few days before the deadline, I wake up on fire, thinking “I have to write the blog, I have to write the blog. I have to write the blog.” I pick a totally differnt topic and begin.
When I get halfway through, I dump the draft into the trash in disgust and start over. Later, I am recovering that first draft from the trash and merging it with another idea. Reject. Re-write. Re-consider. And so it goes, until the 24 hour deadline looms over my head like a Kansas thundercloud. Here is where my muse with the gun comes in.
At last, I press save and the freshly pressed blog is ready to post. I feel a sense of elation. It’s done! Complete! Fini! Or is it?
For me, setting a time to write everyday and sticking to it no matter what keeps me going. Like Michael says, you just sit down and write whether you feel like it or not. It sets a pattern and provides a space in which it is easier to create. It might even turn out to be fun… you never know. And it doesn’t have to be a lot of time. One of my writing heroes is a woman who wrote a novel during her lunch hours, and got it published.
When people ask us about writing, let’s say it’s easy. Riiiiiiiiight.
Cartoons printed with persmission from Jim Hines http://www.jimchines.com/tag/comic/