You’ve Got To Write, Right?

The quest for an optimal writing approach is never ending. It seems no two writers have the same approach, though it is to be noted that the most successful ones tend to be quite prolific. As an artistic pursuit, it is, by its very nature, a mercurial process. I think one has to be very disciplined if deciding to be a writer.

   It is quite an insular profession. Of course, there are those who write as a duo or television writers who work in a team, but for most aspiring writers and those not working in television or have no desire to, it is a solitary process.

   In some respects, the writing is the easiest bit, especially the first run or draft. If the initial idea really has legs, it can feel as though the writing is just happening, with no real effort on your part. When writing flows like that, it is glorious. In those times your confidence just soars, every scene, action, emotion spilling onto the page feels right. Writing seems the easiest job in the world.

   You stop. Put the draft to one side, work on something else maybe. Or not. You go back to that brilliant first draft. Things have been percolating; was that scene right? Did that reference make sense? Is the lead interesting enough? Is the story coherent? So you reread it. Hopefully, it’s not terrible. It’s not perfect, but you never expected it to be. Does it need tweaking or a complete rewrite? The first, ego driven, response is it only needs a bit of tweaking. Of course, it does. An entire rewrite means your period of flow was utter crap and what you felt was you writing in the zone was probably too much alcohol or caffeine. Tweaking it is then.

   It still is not right. You know it’s not right. You are writing a line every hour instead of a page. The inspiration is on holiday. This where the need for discipline comes in and it is hard. You already know you’re not feeling inspired, so to force yourself to keep writing anyway seems futile. Won’t anything you write just be more crap, an uninspired litany of words, desperately trying to be interesting? Maybe.

   I suppose it’s akin to the marathon; the only way you can do it is to do it. If you have twenty-six miles to run and you start to hurt sixteen miles in, you can’t just stop and stay where you are. Even if you walk, shuffle or crawl, you have to get to some sort of conclusion, whether it be the end or medical intervention. There is no stopping.

    More accurate, now that I think about it, would be scaling a peak. The obvious one would be Everest, but it does not really matter which mountain, or hill for that matter, it is. Once you reach the top you have to come back down. You cannot just stop at the top. You have to find some way to get back to the base. So that’s decided; writing is as hard as mountain climbing.

   Obviously writing is not as demanding as climbing, though it can be as mentally arduous, if not more so. The truth is, which is true of any endeavour, skill or undertaking is the more you do it, the better you get. That is true for any and everything. It’s not to say you will necessarily become exceptional at it, but you will definitely get better, more competent and more comfortable at doing it, that includes writing.

   You may not become the next J. K. Rowling or Aaron Sorkin, but you will improve your writing and complete the amazing ideas, concepts and scenarios that play out in your head.

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