The Truth about Writing

I used to think that writers lead a glamorous life. I had a vision of someone sitting down in front of the computer and just letting the words flow like water, waiting for everything to come to life. I picture talent doing its own job with virtually no help from me. If only it were that easy.

I have been writing on and off for the past fifteen years but it was never my bread and butter. I do it because there are thoughts begging to come out and it is an expression of who I am. Then I decided to quit my job and be a full time freelance writer.

Suddenly, I find myself waking up to the reality that writing is sheer, hard work unless you are JK Rowling. But then, she probably went through the same struggles in her career prior to being a celebrity.

Writing about server virtualization at three in the morning is not inspirational nor is researching about different dental clinic exterior designs. But that is what clients pay for. That is what you do if you want to live on your earnings as a full time writer. You write the boring stuff, the things that other people do not want to do.

The challenge lies in being focused for a regular span of time, like eight full hours. But wait! Did I just not quit my job because I want to work at home? Precisely! Work, not sit and twiddle your thumbs at home. This means complete concentration on what you are doing regardless of the noise from your neighbor who is singing at the top of his voice until midnight, or your friends trying to chat with you. Incidentally, I have learned to close Facebook so I do not get sidetracked by the different fascinating and not so fascinating posts on there.

It is a mindless banging of the computer keys for you until you get to 3000 words or whatever word count your client specified. You run out of words, of adjectives, or angles and you begin to doubt your own capabilities of turning out original content. But keep pushing yourself. Michael Jordan did not get to be MVP more than ten times in his career by sitting on his butt. Alice Munro’s short stories did not write themselves and got the Nobel Prize for Literature on their own.  Laziness does not an awesome writer make.

When you hear writers saying that they are brilliant but not getting the recognition that they deserve, you ask yourself; are they willing to put in the effort needed to succeed? You decide to write and you should expect to bounce to and from feelings of passion, inspiration, frustration and anxiety.

My image of a writer sitting in front of the computer is still there. But I have learned to cope with words that are sometimes asleep and no amount of prodding will wake it up. I have made my peace with sparks of life that seems to be just within reach but needs more than a match stick to light it up. I have realized that writing is indeed 90% hard work and 10% talent. I am now a writer.


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