Yesterday, my friend and fellow writer Jarvis Slacks (@jayslacks on Twitter) shared an excellent post about a writer’s need to write. In the post, he articulated many things that I often think but fail to express. Here’s an excerpt:
Writer’s have a problem. Actually, it’s more like a paradox, because the solution to the problem also causes the problem to spring up again. Writing for writers isn’t some hobby. They don’t write because it is fun, or because they feel that it is a good use of their time. Most writers I know sort of hate writing, and we don’t ask forgiveness for saying that. A typical conversation with a writer is that, hey, I actually wrote this morning. And we say, nice work. Because writing is emotionally and mentally draining.
I absolutely agree. Writing is one of the most difficult activities that I have ever pursued, and it’s an endless challenge for two reasons: 1) because the activity itself is very demanding, on a number of levels and 2) because I constantly struggle with what seems like the futility of writing.
Writers are constantly asking themselves, Is my writing good enough? and What is the point of writing this? Very rarely do we believe that we are good enough and very rarely do we believe that our writing has purpose. However, those two shining moments – the ones during which we do notice something worthwhile and meaningful in our writing – make the effort very much worth our time and energy.
I’m not sure if the need to write is a writer’s problem. I like to think of it as a symptom of a certain neurosis. All writers have the same neurosis, to a certain extent, with some variations. Writers need to make sense of the world around them. They need to process their environments in a tangible, structured form. A sentence offers that structure.
Writers are generally curious, and they need to explore subjects. For example, I am eternally fascinated by human relationships, but I don’t always have someone to listen to me hash out all my thoughts and ideas on this subject. When friends are lacking, I turn to a blank page and basically have a conversation with myself.
Also, I think all writers have a need to make a lasting imprint on the universe. Maybe my book will never see the light of day, but at least I got it out of my head. Writers have a need to externalize their ideas, which – untapped – will eventually become a burden, like a bowel movement held way too long.
Much of my happiness revolves around my ability to express myself. When I have the energy and the ideas that allow to write, I feel most like myself. When I’m not able to write or feel drained of my creativity, I am constantly seeking whatever will allow me to re-enter “writing mode”.
Even now, as I write this blog entry, I feel a certain sense of clarity. I feel as if I’m moving forward with some purpose and direction. My ideal self is the self who can illustrate an idea on a page.
You know the feeling you get when you blow a big soap bubble, and it separates seamlessly from the bubble wand, floating off into the air? Being able to externalize an idea offers the same sort of satisfaction – eventually, the manifestation of your idea will “pop”, but, at that point, it will no longer matter. The joy lies in being able to create that bubble and setting it free.
(Photo by redcargurl)