Anybody that knows a writer knows that writing is no easy job.
Sometimes, in fact, it’s several jobs.
First, there is the reality that writing doesn't pay all (or any) of the bills for most of us. Many writers (myself included) have to work a day job and hope they have enough brain juice when they get home to squeak out more of that work-in-progress.
Plus in this social media-saturated age, you quickly learn that just writing the book (or article) isn't enough anymore. Creating connections on Facebook, Twitter, etc. has become a huge part of writing. You have to be able to market your work as well as write it.
And, of course, any writer lucky enough to be published has gone through endless cycles of revision and rejection on their journey from agent to publisher to the bookstore.
For every moment a writer believes they understand their story, there's a moment where they feel like they're trying to play the bagpipes for the first time while riding a unicycle. For every fan who loves your work, there is someone who will shred your work like a cat shreds a roll of toilet paper. For every word that makes it into the latest draft, there are several wallowing in the depths of your trash bin.
Writing is hard and it doesn't get any easier with practice. Every story is a new puzzle to solve with new flaws and new complications.
So why do it?
Why put all that work into something that may never even make it off your computer?
Why be a writer at all?
Well, after some thought, I came up with…
5 Reasons To Be A Writer:
- You love putting together the perfect sentence. As a writer, you will put together many, many imperfect sentences. Sentences so bad, you hang your head in shame in the middle of Starbucks and cry. But, if you put any effort into writing at all, you will write some good, and even a few great, sentences. And then there will be that one sentence. The sentence that evokes a setting or thought or character so well you could frame it. Because it is the greatest sentence you have written to date.
- You have that one idea that you wish you could read. It’s that idea you got while reading or watching TV or walking down the street and, suddenly, you wish you had that book in your hands. Well, if you write it, you can read it. Maybe somebody has already had a similar idea, but don’t let that stop you. Every person brings unique experiences to their writing. No two writers use the same idea the same way.
- You love being surprised by your characters. Any writer will swear on a stack of Bibles (or the holy book of their choice) that the minute a scene starts the characters take on a life of their own. The character who was only supposed to be a background character becomes vital to the plot. The character you thought was only a party animal actually possesses a heart of gold. The shy character unable to speak up for herself finds her spine when someone else's life is on the line. In reality, your characters only get to do what you let them do, but in that moment, they feel real.
- You like seeing the world from other points of view. Good actors and good writers have one thing in common: they put themselves in their characters' shoes...and their readers' shoes. That's an awful lot of shoes to fill. But it's also incredibly rewarding. Life is never boring when you become someone new every time to you sit down at the computer.
- You can't see yourself doing anything else. At the end of the day, despite the ever-growing pile of rejection letters (or bad reviews if you're published), despite the number of times you spend staring at a blank screen waiting for your brain to work, despite all the time and trouble that your readers will never even glimpse, there is nothing else you'd rather do. Because that moment, when you are in the zone and the words are flowing and you can practically reach out and touch the world you're creating, that moment is worth struggling through all the rest of it. At the end of the day, we don't write for the paycheck. We write because we love writing. It's just not worth it otherwise.
Those are a few of the reasons that I came up with for why I love being a writer.
Until next time, word nerds.
Image: sensitive noise / obvious 2 by Milo Milosevic, CC BY 2.0