Crisis and the Writer or “Why’s Life Keep Messin’ Wit Me?”

All writers start out with two things.

  1. A good idea for a story
  2. Good intentions

The rest really is up to each individual writer.  And the “rest” is a big BIG deal.

I bring up these two starting points because I think they point to most writers really wanting to do their best. They’re being honest.  They have gusto. They have zest.

Dansk: Juliennejern og limefrugt

“I’m about to get zesty all up in this mutha.”

But somewhere along the way, life happens.  You plan to get up and write at 7 in the morning, but you start having fights with your husband late into the night and, to not get fired at work from lack of sleep, you sleep that extra 7 to 8 am time slot away.  You’re emotionally drained and you can’t concentrate on some stupid idea that isn’t even real. Your husband’s a douchebag and your marriage is potentially falling apart.  THAT’S what is real!

Maybe you’ve been writing all along at 8 every morning and you really keep meaning to find someone to edit your work, but you’ve only got so many hours in the day.  Your best friend that promised to do your editing is shacking up with a new woman he met and you’re all lonely as can be.  Your other friends are idiots  and they give you a hard time about things and can’t spell to save their lives.  You get tangled up because you’re not getting input and somewhere in the middle of your story, the damsel is left waiting hanging off of a cliff forever more as you give up and get started on another more inspiring idea.

Writer's Block 1

“She on the cliff and then…and then….Aw, screw it, I’ve got a better idea for story about a woman and some elves.”

I could go on forever with this basic idea: Life begins intruding into your work and throwing crisis after crisis at you.

Stephen King, American author best known for h...

“My wife hit me with a bat last night because I didn’t take out the trash.  I published 3 books this morning.  ..you sissy.”

And at this point, I have to angle back and tell you (once again):  Writers write.   No excuses.  Writers write.

In the same example, you find a way to get things done at work even though you have that fight with your husband.  That’s important enough to you to maneuver around.  But writing isn’t important enough to maneuver.  You’re not a writer.  I know because you’re not writing.

With the internet, there are potentially billions of editors out there for your work, but you can’t find one?  You’re only half a writer as I’m sure that poor girl hanging off the cliff in your story would agree. Writers write….and then they edit…..then they do something else….then they talk to people about the work….then they rewrite….then they edit again….then they do the hokey pokey….You get where I’m going with this.

That all being said is well and good, but I must admit, it is one of the most pernicious things to overcome.  Life and the many types of crisis it throws at you seems SO important ALL the time.  There are SO many reasons to shirk this or that duty.  But just as the Buddhists will try to enlighten you: most of it really isn’t all that urgent or important, and even if it is, you still find someway to sit your fat ass down and watch American Idol when you want.

American Idol logo 2008–2011

“Sweety, could you tell me about sleeping with the baby sitter and threaten to leave me after American Idol? It’s the finals.”

For me, and I recognize that this may only work for me, what helps is truly believing the fact that writing not only is a fun activity, but that it makes you a better person somehow.  I mean, your writing may be all about prostitutes giving handy’s too elves in an enchanted forest populated by voyeur trolls that look suspiciously like yourself, but after the experience of writing and exploring ideas, you’ll likely develop insights and a philosophy that is above the rest on elf hand jobs (I so want to read that).

Those Who Hunt Elves

Every elf has his day.

Writing is a social activity. Sure, you do it by yourself a lot.  But then someone has to edit the work.  Then someone has to read the work. Then someone talks to you about what they’ve read.  Then you talk to someone whose work you explored as background for your writing and comment on things you’ve been thinking about since starting, and that makes that person reconsider their own work. And on and on and on.

The Bowery "Ten Cent Turkish Bath" N...

Okay, maybe not THAT social.

You become better at writing in general. You become more detail oriented.  You become a little better with wordplay.  You become more creative.  You become more involved in a community of thought.  You become more likely to wax philosophic on the most inane of topics (though you still  may likely be full of it).   My point is that, what keeps me writing, whether i’m in the mood to do it or not, is the belief that writing will one day make me a better person in the same way that exercising will one day make you thinner and more physically fit.  It is a growth activity of the highest order.

So once again, I’ll leave you with the age old advice.  Writers write.

Stop making excuses.

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