In a world where everyone has become a critic, writers, especially beginning writers, instinctively turn to fellow writers for comfort. Meeting other writers, you assume they understand the struggle that comes with the field, and can share in the triumphs you have made in your personal/professional writing. However, there are some people even inside the writing world that do not grasp the purpose of writing.
At work, I had the pleasure of meeting another writing, and I enjoyed quite a few satisfying conversations with him. That is, until I began explaining my graduate program, and this acquaintance quickly turned into a vicious monster attacking the way that most of the writing world works. For some people, there is a vast difference between genres, but I will give credit to anyone willing to better themselves through writing. So, when this gentleman told me he wrote movie scripts, I took it as an opportunity to learn how a novel writer can differ from one who writes scripts. While I found no huge difference in our discussion of favorite genre or the passion of a new idea, I found that our ideals, and viewpoints on writing differed greatly.
I am going to share my conversation with this fellow as a way of showing how some writers view the purpose of writing, and how it can be skewed by some fantastical idea that it does not require work or discipline to create well-written stories.
The conversation begins with a complaint that I have not stayed true to my goal of 1,000 words a week (made by my mentor and I), which I need to catch up. The response was as follows:
“First of all there should never be no dead lines in writing, cause a true story should not be rushed by any means. That to me is not writing, that’s journalism.”
If you forgive his not so blunt stab at journalism not being writing, which I do not agree, his statement is still incredibly offensive. Mostly, he lacks the understanding that life requires deadlines, which I later explain. However, the underlying problem in his statement is that no matter how long it takes a “true” story (true=good) it will be good if there is no deadline. Yet, some people live by the thrill of deadline pressure to spin the ideas from their head or give them a chance to plan and organize their thoughts. Either way deadlines are a necessary, unavoidable part of a writer’s life, which this man clearly did not understand.
I proceeded to explain that deadlines provide motivation for a writer even when the ideas are not there or your Muse is on vacation. Sometimes, the deadlines are all you need to get the story written.
His next offensive statement: “To be honest if writing is your life then that’s the only motivation you truly need. Without writing then you should cease to exist.”
While I agree full-heartily that I would cease to exist as the person I am today without writing, the motivation to write is not always enough. It never will be enough because if you have nothing to show for your time aspiring to be a writer, you will never become one in reality. The will to become a writer is only the building block. After that, one must acquire the tools and the skills to become a better writer. While this person didn’t seem to understand to basic rules of making yourself into any professional in any field, the next comment is ever more hurtful and difficult to answer.
“Goals to me are obstacles; they blind the mind with deception. A writer dreams about writing, wakes up and writes, goes to sleep and writes. This not something that can be trained into somebody. If you have to tell someone that they should make writing routine then to me there not a writer, it’s just something they choose to do. “
Most of the above passage is just clear misunderstanding of the craft. It is not some free spirit floating around in your own head until something pours out because as most of you know–that almost never happens long enough to get an entire book out. You get that burst of energy, and write for long periods of time, but what about those days when you get up and you just don’t want to write? What about those days? Those are the days where a writer’s discipline forces him/her in front of a chair and makes the writer write even when they don’t want to do it. It’s sad because the man actually described the discipline life I was speaking of, but in his twisted imagination he thought that the writer does it “because they love writing” sounded better than a writing routine. He doesn’t want it to be work. He wants it to be a playful, imaginative hobby that he does to escape from the world. Newsflash, kid. Writers work, hard! They don’t just write for themselves. A writer who does it to escape their life and only for that isn’t going to get very far. Why? Because you should be writing for other people to read.
I have to wonder why this man has not been published, and yet his scripts make money. I don’t know the real difference between script writing and book writing, but I can tell you this. Some people who write DON’T understand the work it takes to putting your dreams in action. My goal as a writer isn’t to learn how to write 1,000 words a week.
My goal is to write one piece of fiction/non-fiction/whatever that helps the world get to know me. I want people to know me, but not by just telling them about my life. I want them to know me by getting to know themselves, to understand parts of me because they have experiences what I feel through the eyes of my character, and the places I imagine in my mind.
Now I know that not everyone can understand my personal purpose in writing, and many people want to do it for the money. Yet, somewhere out there. Maybe not far from where I’m typing this someone will understand my side of this terrible argument, knowing they have felt the same pain trying to explain it to someone else.
If you want to read the entire story, and get the entire view on the horrendous conversation I had–please visit:
Happy Reading and Writing!