Writers Hate Writing: Natalie Duvall guest blog

~Today’s blog comes from Natalie Duvall!~

There seems to be a misconception about writers.  People seem to think that we enjoy writing.  I can’t speak for all scribes, but I can speak for myself and for many that I know when I say this:  writers hate writing.

There’s only one time during the writing process that I enjoy the hobby/profession.  That time is when I’ve just thought of a story and write the first couple pages.  I enjoy that time, because it’s the moment when I can delude myself into thinking what I’m writing is great, is brilliant, and will make perfect sense in one large well-crafted tome.

All the rest of the time, though, writing sucks.  The middle is the worst.  That’s when you’re far enough into the story that you realize the brilliant idea you initially had really was just that – an idea.  It’s tough to take an idea and turn it into 90,000 words.  It’s like a sculptor trying to create Venus de Milo out of one lump of clay.

A lot of writers give up at this point because writing stinks so much.  There’s nothing wrong with that, either.  Heck, maybe those writers are the smart ones.  Because it sure is stupid to keep toiling away on something that you hate doing, something that probably won’t sell (let’s be honest, most books don’t sell).

Some of you writers out there might disagree with me.  You might claim you love writing.  Liars.  If you loved writing, you’d do it ALL THE TIME.  I love ice cream.  I always, always find time to eat it, sometimes to the detriment of other things in my life (like my waistline).  I also love reading.  Sometimes I’ll stay up so late that I can only get a few hours of sleep before having to go to work because I’m enjoying a book so much.  I’ll carry a book with me to parties and restaurants, just so I can keep reading.

When you love doing something, you make the time to do it.  In fact, you stop doing other things so you can keep doing it.  How many writers do that?  How many cut short a dinner with friends because they’re just so darn eager to get back to typing?  That’s what I thought.  Writers just don’t like writing.

So why do we do it?  I wish I could answer that.  It’s a question that’s plagued me for a while.  Maybe I do it because I know I can.  Not many people can say they’ve written a book the whole way through.  I can say I’ve written three, with another one halfway done.  Do I write because I want to be as loved and revered as Stephen King, Nora Roberts, JK Rowling?  Possibly.  I might even do it because I think I have good stories that I want you to hear.  I’m not really sure, but I know I don’t do it because I want to.

Perhaps it’s a sickness.  I would hazard that it is.  Why would I continue to do something I dislike, sacrificing time I could be doing something else?  Can you tell me?


12 responses to “Writers Hate Writing: Natalie Duvall guest blog

  1. A sickness—I think you may be onto something! 🙂

    I write because I can’t not write—there are too many stories and characters churning around in my brain to just leave them in there, and I always feel better about life in general when I’m steadily working on a novel. Middles are AWFUL. I hate them with a passion. But plowing through until the end is the absolute best feeling ever, so I try to remember that when I’m floundering.

    I think it’s always a shock with every story to discover the disconnect between “Holy crap most awesome idea ever!!” and “This isn’t as cool as it was in my head.” Very tragic. But that’s the downside of being a creative, idealistic person…

    Most of the time I do enjoy the actual writing, crafting sentences, seeing my characters come to life on the page… and yet I still check my email and Facebook every five minutes, so I don’t really know what’s up with that. 🙂 And there have been times when I ditched company to work on my novel—reasons being I’m an extreme introvert or was getting to a really exciting part or it was during NaNoWriMo.

    But there are a lot of days (weeks. months.) where I procrastinate like a bandit and quit writing after a few sentences to go do something else or don’t even get around to opening my novel file at all. I think it might be that writing is a lot of work, and even if it’s work you enjoy it’s still work and requires effort and humanity in general is incredibly lazy (which I know quite well, being incredibly lazy myself).

    So I don’t THINK I hate writing. Hmmm.

  2. Joanna, I bounce from project to project nearly all the time except during November. Then even I will ditch a party or two (but NO MORE than two! 😉 ) to write. It’s definitely a complicated relationship that writers have with their stories.

  3. Natalie, you are so right! You put it perfectly! I’ve always believed that people who say they “love” writing are either exaggerating or aren’t writing very hard. Letting words fall off your fingertips, with no thinking, no dirty, sweaty excavation of emotions or thoughts, no painful revisions, no insecurities, no second-guessing… Well, sure. That’s probably fun.

    But real writing, the kind in which you try to say something that might be worth reading, and say it well…that’s hard and scary and just about as far away from fun as a fingernail-peel.

    Why do we do it? I think creative people need to create something the same way athletes need to work out, or capitalists need to make money. If we don’t let some of the creative energy out, we feel crummy inside, stale and cranky and unfulfilled. So I guess I’m saying…it’s like lancing a boil? LOL. Loved the post.

  4. Kathleen, absolutely. Why do we do it? Maybe it’s what Joanna said in her comment: “I write because I can’t not write.” Or perhaps it’s what Natalie said: “I might even do it because I think I have good stories that I want you to hear.” No matter what the reason is, the fact is that we do it. Even if it hurts. 😉

  5. Joanna, just have to say you really, truly made me laugh out loud with this:

    and yet I still check my email and Facebook every five minutes, so I don’t really know what’s up with that. 🙂

    LOVE it! 🙂

  6. Hear, hear! I love writing…grocery lists. Fiction, though, not so much. I do it so I don’t have dreams that wake me up at night. Definitely a sickness.

  7. Yep. It’s painful. There are other high points… end of first draft, first submission, unopened response from publisher (might be an acceptance or at the very least a personal rejection!), and the occasional acceptance. I think the disease we have is a form of undiagnosed bipolar disorder. We live for the highs, so we accept the lows. We often are self-critical to the point of self-flagellation– flaying our own sense of worth. It’s a painful, beautiful creative cycle, but I’m sure if there was a magic pill that took away the highs and the lows we would refuse it.

    I agree with Natt. She’s brilliant.

    • Donna, good point. Even when it is the most frustrating, I don’t think I would stop. If someone said, “I can give you a medication that will make you stop wanting to write,” I would definitely turn that down. 🙂 Interesting to think about!

  8. Joanna, I completely agree with this — “I think it’s always a shock with every story to discover the disconnect between “Holy crap most awesome idea ever!!” and “This isn’t as cool as it was in my head.” Very tragic.” I think that’s why I love writing beginnings so much. The potential is still there!

    I wish I could make a living off writing beginnings.

    🙂 Natalie

  9. Glad to make you laugh, Kathleen! 🙂

    Natalie, wouldn’t that be grand?

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