The first thing I know about writing is that it’s a process. Writing is not something you have done; it is something you are doing.
Sound nitpicky? Actually, it’s a radical idea, which is blasphemous to the mindset of our culture. Think of it: inherent in my statement is the assumption that the product of your writing should not be the singular point of your writing.
Unfortunately, we in the Western world have been trained otherwise. We are a product-centered culture. Our tendency is to think that the things we do don’t matter until and unless they’re finished. Even more, for many of us, the things we do don’t matter until someone else values them. So we focus on our product, on getting it done and making it worth someone else’s approval. It doesn’t really matter what it means to us, whether we value it. Our opinion is not enough to count. It’s like when our mothers told us we were pretty.
So if that product, that piece of writing, turns out to be less than we imagined? Or, it doesn’t achieve the end we intended, get the comments, provoke the compliments, make the sale? Then we’re dealing with the soul-sucking notion that our whole effort was a failure. Our goal was not met, our time was wasted, we let ourselves down. Clearly the fault is ours: we’re not talented enough. Or we didn’t work hard enough. Or….
…Maybe it’s that we weren’t inspired to begin with. Maybe real writers are always filled with inspiration. How can we ever be real writers if we have such trouble being inspired? That leads to magical thinking that involves lucky pens and shaman-blessed stones, maybe some incense as well. It also leads to a work ethic that is choppy at best. We don’t sit down to work unless we’re sure the inspiration is there, waiting to flow over us. As a result, we never get into the groove of writing. We never learn that some days are inspired writing days and some days suck, and some days are just mediocre. We never learn the secret of the “real writers”, that the aggregate of your writing practice is what counts, the median, not the high and not the low.
It’s called putting in the time. Writing
- …no matter what you’re feeling
- …no matter whether you want to
- …no matter if you have nothing to say
Who among us hasn’t been there? I dare you to raise your hand if you’ve never sat in front of the screen or paper and just thought, shoulders slumped, I don’t wanna. Fact is, however, that those of us who are writers do it anyway. It’s our job, and if it sometimes feels like Monday morning on the assembly line, well, so be it. That means, deal with it.