Yesterday turned out to be an incredibly crazy day, so I’m posting today.
There seems to be a fanciful notion among regular folk that writer’s write in an idealized, romanticized fashion. I’m not exactly sure what their fantasies entail, but I think it has to do with notions of writers floating around their house in a euphoric state and whimsically putting words onto parchment with a feathered quill.
Perhaps they envision us wistfully dreaming of stories and staring out windows with a faraway look in our eyes (which actually does happen). No matter what they think, for those of us who write, we know that this is not the case.
Sure, we can write in secluded cabins in the woods surrounded by majestic mountains and splendid forests or on the beach or next to a pool or in a million-dollar dream home. We can also write on park benches, on the subway, on the bus, in cars, and a hundred other places you can think of—some of which might not be glamorous or exciting.
When we’re writing, we don’t pay attention to our surroundings. Our thoughts are drawn inward to the worlds we are creating and worrying about whether are narrative has any holes or if our characters are acting in normal and expected ways (even if those ways only apply to that character). We have backstories running through our heads and are trying to figure out how to get from the beginning of the story to the end of the story in a logical and entertaining way.
While writing can be incredibly rewarding and exciting, it’s also work. And like any other job, it requires focus and dedication. It is also full of stress, worry, and frustration.
Writers pour hours, days, weeks, and years into their work. They’ll work late hours and early mornings. They’ll write through lunch breaks and forget to feed their pets. They’ll fret and stress about whether what they are producing is good enough. Sure, they can do it in their pajamas and without having to shower or leave the house, but they’re still working.
I’m not really sure where the romantic notions of how a writer writes came to be. If history has taught us anything, it’s that writers are often alcoholics, have depression, or a variety of other mental illnesses (but this doesn’t make us any different from the rest of society or terrible people).
Perhaps this fantastical notion of writers having a charmed career came about because of how the written work is presented. If done well, the finished story has the ability to look flawless, like it came readily and easily. If done well, a story will instantly draw a reader in and take them to new worlds and introduce them to new, interesting characters. If done well, a story lets the reader forget about their worries and troubles and lets them escape from reality.
If a story has the ability to make people think and feel, I’m all for the general people thinking the process was romantic and effortless. It means the writer accomplished their goal.