No, I’m not trying to rehash my first post. That post was about why I started writing, while this one is about why I continue writing. After all, it’s not like the old Dire Straights song: money for nothing and your chicks for free. I know the music biz doesn’t work that way because my brother is in it, and he’s in Belgium as I write this, performing with his band Cletus Got Shot (yes, that’s a shameless plug. There’s also a link on my blogroll). Nor is writing an easy field to be in. It’s very easy to procrastinate about writing, because sitting down at the computer and looking at that blank screen (and I use Word, so it looks like a blank sheet of paper) can be daunting: You mean I’ve got to fill all that up? You’re nuts!
Ask any writer: it’s not easy filling up all that blank space. Or, at least, it’s not easy getting started. Sometimes it looks like some infinite void that’s fraught with unknowable dangers, and stepping foot into it is…well, scary. It’s an unknown, whether you outline or write from the seat of your pants.
So why do I do it?
Well, the short answer is because I don’t have a choice.
Okay, well, in a sense I do. I mean, if I want to lay there every night and spend an hour or so tossing and turning because I have random sentences running through my mind because I didn’t discipline myself and sit down at the computer, sure, I can go for days, weeks even, without writing. (Wow. How’s that for a run-on sentence?)
But that’s the rub, as they say in England. Lying there listening to my creative voice run random sentences through my head gets old. I fully understand what Hawkeye Peirce says in the final M*A*S*H movie, Goodbye, Farewell and Amen (and I’m paraphrasing here): “Sometimes I think I think too fast. If I could just get my brain to slow down, I could go to sleep.” Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.
But more than that, I love writing, just as my brother loves composing songs. It’s a drive from within, and there’s nothing quite so satisfying as the feeling I get when I sit back after having finished my current writing session. There’s a sense of satisfaction there that I’ve never really felt from doing anything else. Of course, I’m pretty happy when I finish any job (especially the ones I hate and know I won’t have to do again), but that satisfaction isn’t quite so fulfilling as what I feel after my daily writing. It’s that special feeling of finishing a job well done, and done within my particular calling. I have the talent, I’ve been told that since high school (I just don’t exercise that talent as well or as often as I should), and when I use it the way it’s meant to be used I’m doing something that feels somewhat holy to me.
Does that make me special? Nope. Everybody has a talent of some kind. I guess I’m just lucky, because not everybody discovers their talent or, if they do, exercises it. So, yeah, in that respect, I’m lucky. I just gotta follow my muse.
And further, I write because I want to entertain. That’s my way of “passing it on.” I’ve spent countless hours being entertained by other writers, from Asimov to Weber. They have taken me to other worlds, from Asimov’s Foundation universe to Weber’s Honor Harrington. So now it’s time to give it back, to hope that I can pass on that entertainment to some other person, whether or not they feel the need to pass it on. More often than not, that person will pass it on by telling someone else about my story, and that’s good enough for me. Not all of us want to sit down at the keyboard and, as somebody once said (and I wish I could credit the author, but it’s been too long ago), open up a vein. Writing is that creative.
And, on a final note, I encourage all procrastinating writers (me included) to jump over to John Scalzi‘s blog (you can click on the link at the bottom of this page) and scroll down to his September 16th entry called “Writing: Find the Time or Don’t.” It’s a fairly straightforward look at motivating yourself to write.
- Writing: Find the Time or Don’t (whatever.scalzi.com)
- The Fail Safe Guide to Overcoming Procrastination (writetodone.com)