Fact: Writers do not always love to write.
Someone has started a cruel rumor regarding writers. They're saying that we (writers) wake up in the morning and pull ourselves together by the Keurig as bluebirds whistle us awake with songs of joy. They (the rumor spreaders) claim writers' muses stretch with self-satisfied purrs at being gently awakened and our fingers begin to twitch with anticipation at the inherent joy of creation at the keyboard. Right?
Writing is not some skip-through-the-daisies-with-a-smile-and-a-Coke-as-the-sun-reflects-off-your-perfect-bouncy-tresses-and-ideas-waft-from-your-butt endeavor. Writing is freaking hard-ass work. To say otherwise is to accomplish two things without pause:
1. The speaker asserts his/her lack of knowledge about all things writing.
2. The speaker disrespects every writer s/he has ever known, heard of or read.
So, where did this rumor and the daisy-skipping nonsense get started? I'm not really sure. But if I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times. No. Joke. It's something that bothered me enough to address it here. Is this the best venue? Decidedly not. Author blogs are declared "best" if they generally perpetuate the very belief system I'm challenging. So my blog is bad with both my knowledge and my consent. Hell, with my permission. Because I don't want people--writers and/or non writers alike--to operate under this misguided belief any longer.
"So," you ask, "if this belief system is wrong, what's right?"
There's a reason you'll make Jedi Master.
The truth is relatively straightforward if not a little brutal, and it's this:
WRITING IS DAMN HARD WORK
There. Myth debunked. Not that hard, was it? Heh. Right. Now try writing. You're going to find I may have understated things just a bit. Or a lot. Or so much so that you'll curse me into Dante's seventh ring and with good cause. Because writing is hard.
Why do it, then? Easy. Because sometimes you have to do the hard thing to do the right thing. That statement isn't a post-meal-fortune-cookie-woo-woo-here-are-your-lottery-numbers-(4 12 27 31 15, Powerball: 36)-good-luck-with-life-hope-you-don't-get-diarrhea sentiment. That statement? It's the simple if brutal truth.
And people, even writers, seem to forget this more often than not. We do what we do as writers because we love it, but it's not because it's all fun and games and belly button shots on Fridays. (What. You don't have Belly Button Shot Fridays? You need a different job. Seriously.) Writing is about intense focus, incredible self-discipline, uncomfortable self-exploration, unfaltering perseverance, necessary emotional exposure, surplus hope, equal hatred, boundless frustration and even more hope. It's about sitting your ass in the chair every damn day, whether you want to be there or not, and writing words that feel like they're ripping your fingernails to the quick when said words won't come easily. It's about being your own micro-managing boss, and damn but you're a task master from the Dark Side (who, incidentally lied--there are no cookies).
Writing is not a job. It's a compulsion. It's something you do because you can't help it, even when you wish like mad that you could. Or would. Or even know you should. You should have been a cardiac surgeon.
The biggest misconception is that writing happens when a writer wants it to. Snap your fingers and BOOM! The chapter lays itself out because writing is your passion, right?
Writing happens when a writer makes it happen. There are days the words don't come no matter how much a writer begs, pleads, cries and threatens. Those are the days known as "phoning it in"--doing just enough to get by, just enough to not lose your invisible, it-really-doesn't-exist-or-get-you-discounts-or-free-tacos-anywhere Writers' Club Card. Before non-writers cast that first stone labeled "But You're Passionate About What You Do," realize that everyone--EVERYONE--has days where getting out of bed and making it to the office is the most that gets accomplished. It doesn't matter if the "office" is downtown, uptown, across town or across the hall. Those aren't the days you get a raise or a promotion. They're the days you're just glad you make it through because day-um life can be hard and adulting even harder. Believe it or not, it doesn't matter if you're wearing Gucci power suits or Gummy Bear pj pants. There are days everyone counts making it to the end of the day their biggest success. It's just that no one talks about those days and no one with the sense of a spitting llama brags about them.
The point of this rambling almost-manifesto of madness is this: before anyone points fingers and declares writers have it "easy," they need to really sit down and figure out what "easy" is. Because no matter what advertising propaganda and $6.99 will buy, writing doesn't come with an Easy Button. If it did, everyone would do it. As it is? Only a handful try, and only the craziest, crankiest, funniest and most masochistic persevere to trump the voices in their heads.