Saturday, December 28, 2013

You're Probably Not a Writer



It started with a question on Brian Michael Bendis' tumblr:

The question?  "What advice do you have for someone who has had writer's block for the past 6 or 7 years?"

Think about that for a minute.  Seriously.  Assuming you're not Douglas Adams (and it's safe to assume you're not) then is it possible to be a writer and have writer's block for that long?

Bendis didn't think so.  He said, "this will sound harsh but you're probably not a writer.  writers write every day.  it's ok, not everyone is."  He went on to tell the poster that if he considered himself a writer, he needed to "get back to work!!"  He told him to write.  Fantastic advice.

It's just that easy.  And just that hard.

And tumblr blew up.

See for yourself:
http://brianmichaelbendis.tumblr.com/post/70724241561/what-advice-do-you-have-for-someone-that-has-had

I've been searching for the response that caught my attention and squeezed all the juice out of it.  I finally found a copy of the post at
http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2013/12/23/writer-says-you-have-to-write-to-be-a-writer-tumblr-gets-upset

I wish I could attribute the writer, but I can't find the comment.  It's scary:

"Haven’t written in a year because I work 12s (during which I brainstorm) for 14 days shifts, and have two kids. But I can’t keep a schedule of writing up, and my brain is literally too exhausted to think at the end of my work day, and I’m chasing two kids during my two weeks off, have a house to maintain, and am trying to recover from my schedule.
But make no mistake. I don’t write it on paper or in a word processor every day, but I have whole finished stories written in my head."

Wow.  It's like looking into a cracked mirror where my head points inward on itself.  So many would be writers think like this.  I know that I used to, before I decided to take responsibility for my own success.

Like this response, I had so many great and wonderful stories in my head.  You know where they weren't?  On bookshelves.  Or on the computer.  Or an paper.  Because I wasn't writing, the stories didn't really exist.  And when I finally, FINALLY took the time to write stories, I discovered something.  First, I discovered how difficult it is to take something from the murky depths of a mind and have it resemble the same idea once it's on paper.

Because writing is craft.  I wish I'd asked a similar question and gotten an answer like this years ago.  Maybe I'd have realized, it's ridiculous to claim to be a writer when I don't write.

A few years ago I could have used Bendis' advice.  Or even, Ellis' harsher advice at http://warrenellis.tumblr.com/post/70741678830/what-advice-do-you-have-for-someone-that-has-had