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ProAm Tip #42 - I’ll tell you what I know.

February 14, 2019

Writing is constantly, consistently mistaken for what it truly is.

 

Writing isn’t a creative endeavor. Writing isn’t a magical, muse-inspired party of wonderfully creative and joy-inducing days filled with effortless invention.

 

Writing isn’t a mental job.

 

Writing isn’t writing.

Creating is the act of invention. Creation is the art of crafting something totally new. Creating is a magical, muse-inspired party.

Writing is not creating. Writing is typing. That’s what it is. You’re a stenographer, a typesetter, a manual labor monkey. Eek-eek.

 

When people say ‘writing’ is hard, what they mean is ‘typing’ is hard. Writing as a creative act is the easiest work there is: you’re sitting or standing or walking or daydreaming, or however you do it, but it’s all mental. There’s little to no physical involvement.

 

When ‘writing is used to mean typing, you’re talking about physical involvement. Physical labor. And let me tell you something, kids: --- Writing is hard fucking work.

 

Writing, at its core, on the surface, and from top-to-bottom, side-to-side hard goddamned work.

 

Writing is a physical activity. Writing is a physical act.

People use ‘writing’ as a catch-all word to describe every part of the process, but I’m going to be that guy and tell you that you’re using it incorrectly.

 

Writing, like any physical activity, is about practice. You need practice to be a better runner. You need practice to be a better carpenter. You need practice to be a better painter. Any act that demands a physical exertion from you is an activity you need to practice and train at.

 

Writing is, as Edison noted about genius, 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. As Stephen King said, “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates a talented individual from a successful one is a lot of hard work.”

You need to practice everything. You need to practice typing. You need to practice handwriting. You need to practice editing. You need to practice sentence construction. You need to practice getting your ideas on the paper as efficiently as you possibly can. 

 

If you don’t sit down and write, how can you expect to do it well? Never mind the creative work. If you can’t do the HARD work, you won’t be able to do the creative work.

 

You want to finish your book, short story, play, poem, or whatever else you want to write?

 

Sit down and write.

 

You want to be able to get it done?

 

You have to START.

 

It takes discipline. It takes stubbornness. It takes daily application of demanding physical exertion to write. Anyone can be creative. Not everyone can be a writer. A writer, by definition, is someone who WRITES. And that’s not writing, that’s typing. To belabor an already-made point, it’s a physical act. Get your butt in the chair. Get your hands on the keyboard. Type, for God’s sake. If you don’t, you not going to get better at it.

 

When I started writing, I would speed-write in marathon sessions, producing four or five thousand words in one day, and then I wouldn’t write again for weeks. I waited for the ‘muse’. Inspiration. For something other than myself to do the hard work.

 

When I became serious, I started writing every day. My output dropped severely. Maybe a thousand words. Sometimes less. But I did it every day. I built up the muscles. I started building the ability to sit and write for longer and longer periods. Now, after years of steady practice (or training, if you want to call it that) I can write any time of day or night, for as long as I want. It’s not uncommon for me to produce 6, 8, or 10,000 words a day. It’s Far more common for me to produce 2 or 3 thousand a day. And that’s okay, so long as I never miss a day. That’s the job. And the job is HARD. It’s work. It’s sometimes frustrating and unrewarding and it hurts to read what I’ve written. But I do it every day anyhow.

 

And really, 3,000 words a day is 21,000 words a week, which is 84,000 words a month. Which, in case you didn’t know, is an average-sized book.

 

I don’t write a book every month. Sometimes I work on different projects, sometimes I write things for school, sometimes I just write long, rambling Facebook posts.

 

But I ALWAYS type, every day.

The physical act of writing informs the creative, by the way. Getting your hands moving unlocks your mind, and tells your fingers what to write. Your thoughts are backed up in your brain and have nowhere to go. No way of being birthed. They need a birth canal, and that’s what your hands are. They create a direct link between your thoughts and creativity to the page, wherein they become real, live, squealing, wet, blood-soaked-

 

Too far. I always go too far.

 

You got the point I’m trying to make, I hope. The more you write (typing and creativity this time) the more you can write. And the more you will write.

 

Promise.

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