Writers Don’t Just Write

Someone once asked me, “What is it that writers do?”

And I answered that moron thusly, “We write.”

But as I think about it now, I have to admit that we don’t just write, do we? Writers do so much more than that. We research, plot, strategize, and tell lies (if we’re authors of fiction). We go to conferences to learn more about the craft and to hone the art of writing. We make character sketches, and we draw maps of new worlds. We keep up with what’s hot in the market; we learn as much as we can about others in the industry: the editors, agents, fellow authors, publishers, artists, designers, etc. We obsessively Google our names; we watch a lot of Netflix; and above all else, we read, read, read.

By nature, we are an obsessive breed. There is nothing that we love more than a good story, and once we find something that we love, it’s all we can think about for a while. We share it with our friends and family, hoping that they’ll find the same enjoyment we did. We are those people who go to fan sites/clubs. We go to book signings and dress up at the movie theater for midnight showings. We enjoy meeting other readers, other people who are just as obsessed as we are. We get so caught up in stories that eventually we are hit with our own story idea.

At first we don’t know what to do with it. We think, “Oh, that’s so cool. I hope someone else thinks of that, so they can write it because I would so read that.” Then we realize, “Oh wait, I thought of that. No one else is going to write it.” Then we think, “What IF I wrote it?” Then, almost immediately, “No, that’s impossible. Books are huge. I could never do that.” So we try not to think about it.

But almost as if the story idea has a mind of its own, it starts growing. Characters start to develop, a setting materializes, a plot sneaks up on us. The idea tangles itself in our brains, growing and growing until it’s all consuming. Vainly we try to bat the darn thing away, but it’s got a strong grip. So strong that it starts taking over everything we do until the most menial tasks become impossible. The only way to get our lives back is to give in and write it down.

THEN comes the actual writing part. The hard part. The part that makes us want to pull out our hair and grind our teeth. We obsess over our own story, writing and rewriting it until it becomes (in our eyes) perfect. Then we muster up the courage to share it with others, after which we learn that story is in fact NOT perfect. If the pressure of it all isn’t too much, we revise some more until once again we think the story is perfect. And some might then agree with us: the story is perfect. At last we are finally able to sit back and relax, happy to know that we’re done. We have bravely engaged the story idea in combat and emerged victorious!

And then the next idea comes.

And before we know it, we realize that this is the way our lives are now. There is no going back. Why try to fight it? Why not become obsessed with the writing industry and do EVERYTHING that writers do?

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2 thoughts on “Writers Don’t Just Write

  1. bslevens says:

    Let’s see if you have what it takes to maintain a blog. Oh and be careful….those who profess proficiency in writing will be under scrutiny by those who judge unrighteously. This should be fun to read…

  2. sarahtalley says:

    Plot sneaks up on us? Is that why yours was missing for so long? It was just taking a while to sneak, wasn’t it? But I joke. I love your plots. You rock.

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