“I don’t really understand writing and I’m not sure I want to. I just know that for some obscure internal reason, I need to do it.”
– Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, Filth, The Acid House, Glue, etc, etc, etc
There are a lot of books out there about how to write a novel, how to get started and how to keep a schedule and how to apply discipline to your writing. I’m sure that they sometimes inspire a new writer to apply these concepts to his or her own process and are an invaluable resource for these people.
Call me a cynic, but I would guess that most times, however, they fail.
I believe that we do the things that are important to us.
I have always thought it would be awesome to be able to speak Spanish. I took Spanish in college, I used to ask native speakers to teach me things, we got a learn Spanish at home teaching module for the family to learn together, I even went and bought a Rosetta Stone knock off. I had all the greatest intentions, paid for the equipment, and then…nothing. It fizzled out. Now, after all that, speak hardly any Spanish at all. It’s not for lack of desire, it’s not for lack of means, its because when the time came and a choice had to be made between learning Spanish and doing other things, the other things won out every time. Now my Spanish learning resources sit there with my treadmill/clothes hanger, if you can find them buried under all the weight loss books and the get your home organized in four easy steps manuals.
We do the things that are important to us.
I would guess that most people that buy the how-to manuals for writing do it good faith; they are not intentionally throwing their money away. But I would also guess that when it comes time to sit down and write or do other stuff, mostly, the other stuff wins.
This is not intended to be critical of people who do this; the other stuff wins all the time for me, when it comes time to work out or to clean my basement up, or to fix the cupboard door, or to do laundry or to change the cat box or to…
You probably get the idea.
And yeah, some nights when it comes time to sit down and write, the other stuff wins for me too. After a workday of sitting and staring at a computer screen and struggling with my focus, some nights for sure the other stuff wins. Some nights, I just need to switch off.
I write this blog on my lunch hour. Some days I just don’t wanna, maybe I’m tired and I just watch videos of people falling down on the internet or fiddle around on Twitter.
But I keep coming back to it. Because for whatever strange reason, writing stuff down is important to me. And I swear, even if I never publish a word, if I just keep getting rejected, and shot down, and beat up, I’ll keep on writing, not because I’m tough, because clearly I’m not, but because it is, and will remain, important to me.
Sometimes, I wish it wasn’t. Writing takes a lot of time and effort and attention and care, more than I have to spare, more than I want to give away, and mostly nobody gives a shit whether I do it or not.
But still I write stuff down, try to capture something, try to make the world a tiny bit different by using my words.
Because for better and for worse, we do the things that are important to us.