The Truth About Writing & What Writing Is to Me

Everyone lies about writing. They lie about how easy it is or how hard it was. They perpetuate a romantic idea that writing is some beautiful experience that takes place in an architectural room filled with leather novels and chai tea. They talk about their ‘morning ritual’ and how they ‘dress for writing’ and the cabin in Big Sur where they go to ‘be alone’—blah blah blah. No one tells the truth about writing a book. Authors pretend their stories were always shiny and perfect and just waiting to be written. The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not. Even I have lied about writing. I have told people that writing this book has been like brushing away dirt from a fossil. What a load of shit. It has been like hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver.

I wrote this book after my kids went to sleep. I wrote this book on the subways and on airplanes and in between setups while I shot a television show. I wrote this book from scribbled thoughts I kept in the Notes app on my iPhone and conversations I had with myself in my own head before I went to sleep. I wrote it ugly and in pieces…

…Most authors liken the struggle of writing to something mighty and macho, like wrestling a bear. Writing a book is nothing like that. It is a small, slow crawl to the finish line.

Amy Poehler, in her preface to “Yes Please” (via thearetical)

This is all so true. I have tried seriously writing before and let me tell you it is this huge massive struggle. First off I started writing seriously in middle school. I have written on paper in notebooks and on computers in Word. They are both so different and show my evolution with writing. Writing in a notebook is like elementary school for writers. You obviously aren’t making a manuscript, something done for computers. You aren’t able to edit it easily making it look messy and unprofessional. It is like a diary that is not of your life but of someone else’s. Writing at a computer can be tedious. You aren’t able to take that notebook wherever you want, pick up a pen and write. There is no personal connection; you don’t get to see your own handwriting literally create a master piece. Because at the end of the day that is what art is and it isn’t the same on the computer.

Secondly, this statement speaks to me on a different level. It is like someone finally gets me. “The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not.” There have been so many times when I start something and halfway through (if I make it that far) I stop because I have become bored with the story line. I want to jump ahead to the interesting and dramatic scenes or scenes I like and not focus on the middle building up parts. I could write something and then realize that I don’t like how I wrote that scene, want to change it, but don’t know how. This is the moment where I think “oh great, now what?” Some may call this writers block, which I guess that’s what it is. But I think it is more like not knowing what to do.

You could do so many things with your characters, a story arc or a scene. There are too many directions. That is another one of my problems. I build up to something and don’t know how I want to finish it. Is she’s sad and doesn’t want to hang out with anyone in this new town because she did something to “burn” her old friends, did they “burn” her, if so, was it before or after she moved? When did she find out about this? Who knows, no one? When will she come out of her shell? Will she go visit her old town? When? What will happen? The questions and possibilities are endless. This is why writing is hard. You may have a good idea but not know how to develop it or if you want to develop it. There have been so many ideas of mine I start to plan out in my head, names of characters, their traits, what it will be about. I begin to get excited about it forming a connection with some of the characters and then-I just stop. I never had the compulsion to write them down. Time went on; I got busy and forget about them. They are lost forever.

Now don’t think writing is all bad, because if it were no one would do it. I do love it. I love coming up with my own characters and putting a little of myself in them. Basically the cliché answer of escaping to my own little world I have made up for myself. But it is true, I get to create exciting things that would never happen in my life, I hope to happen, or could actually (if it didn’t already) happen in my life. Based off of this, to me writing is based off of: what you have experienced, what you want to experience or what others have experienced (ie. other fiction or true stories). Although I haven’t finished all of my stories, I am still emotionally involved with my characters that it is why it is so crucial to have the writers onset of a TV show or movie since they are the only ones that truly know what is going on beneath the surface, everyone else is just getting what’s on the blank page and left to guess on the rest. I love having this privilege to have the ultimate connection and the maximum insight. It means I don’t have to guess on how the cover of the story was made, what went on behind the pages, and how the book was bounded at the end.

Writing is a blessing and torture in disguise. It depends on how you want to look at it. Every writer has different experiences and like Amy Poehler says, people do write about writing because just like with everyone else they want to make it seem glamorous or too much trouble, every job does that, they don’t want to show the nit and grit the of the true process. I don’t blame them for this, one just has to know, and you can never know what something is actually like until you experience it for yourself like Amy did and like I did.

-Forever Putting My Thoughts On Paper

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