The craft of writing, or How to drive yourself insane

We all know that writers are crazy. It’s obviously a prerequisite to be madder than a hatter to do this kind of stuff. There’s that whole “voices in my head” thing or, “the character made me do it” excuse. But the whole process of writing can, I truly believe,  make you insane. Trying to get inside the heads of you characters, and letting them get inside your head, can be a maddening, frustrating process. Sometimes ideas and words just flow right out of you. Other times you have to draw it out from your tortured soul, like one draws venom from a wound.

“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people”-Thomas Mann

Then there is the self-doubt, the indecision, the nagging compulsion to constantly change, revise, rewrite what you are composing until it is perfect. Except nothing ever is perfect. Sometimes you just have to settle for good enough. Otherwise you will revise and rewrite until the story becomes meaningless, you burn out completely on it, or you die.

“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”-Oscar Wilde

But write we must. Because that’s who we are, not just what we do; we’re story-tellers. The most important part is that we must share what we write with the rest of the world. Otherwise it becomes merely self-serving cathartic therapy.

“Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.” -Winston Churchill

And lastly writing is a job. Okay, I love my job, insanity, frustration and doubts aside, but a job nonetheless. You have to put in the hours, write as much as you can, and learn as much about writing as you can, so you can constantly hone your craft with words.  

“I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.”- Peter De Vries

Luckily it doesn’t require a university degree or any credentials to become a writer. Anyone can take a stab at it and it’s possible to succeed.

“Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write a book.”- Edward Gibbon

Having just started to get my work out there to be published, I of course must work full-time at something else, and write in my spare time. Like there is a lot of that to go around. That’s why on any given day, you’ll find me sitting at my computer in a dark room, past the witching hour of the night, trying to get words put to screen, researching material for my stories, networking with other writers, or working on new and interesting ways to promote my work and get my name out there in the world. When I’m in the writing zone, everyday stuff in my life gets ignored unfortunately. Friends go unvisited, laundry and dishes stack up, cars go unwashed, fences unrepaired. Writing can take over your whole life, make you a hermit, a recluse, and all those long hours alone in the dark, staring into a computer screen: a madman!

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.”
-William Shakespeare, “Hamlet”, Act 2 scene 2
Published in: on April 11, 2011 at 6:17 am  Leave a Comment  

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