Forget the Hemingway image of the writer, bearded, drunk and slumped over a typewriter filled with cigarette butts. Being a writer need not equate to misery, alcohol abuse and blinding headaches. Being a writer ROCKS, and here’s why:
- You can do it all the time. Don’t tell me that the happiest Chartered Accountant or Quantity Surveyor can do their job when they’re not at work. That accountant needs his spreadsheets and accounts, and that Quantity Surveyor needs…er…quantities of stuff to survey. But writers are writing ALL THE TIME. We walk around and our characters tell their stories in our heads. Walking the dog, we are striding the worlds we create. The part of the job that is done at the keyboard is only the culmination of the process. How cool is that?
- Your job, your rules. Yes, there are guidelines about plot, and character development, and first person viewpoints and on and on. But the truth is, those rules only apply until they don’t. You can use them to tell your story, but if they aren’t getting the job done, you can cast them aside and try something different. That doesn’t go so well, for example, in a Pharmacy…”Ah, Mrs Williams? Still getting those headaches? Try this, I just sort of bunged a load of stuff together in a pot….”
- Reading. You don’t HAVE to love reading to be a writer, but let’s face it, you probably do. To write, you have to love words, and reading is a ready source. But look, it’s not like you have to fill your mental fuel tank with a fresh supply of words in order to create your own sparkling prose…Really, you don’t. But reading stretches your imagination, reading good books gives you hints and tips subconsciously that you will use later. It’s not plagiarism, it’s style.
- It’s the best time to do it. Thanks to the wonder of the internet, being a writer is not the solitary depressing experience it once was. There are hundreds of online communities out there. Through social networks like G+ you can meet and talk with other writers of all levels. You may not get face time with JK Rowling or Tom Clancy, but with patience, manners and sensible commenting, you can get in touch with published authors (like John Scalzi, or Chuck Wendig).
- The gates are open. Now, this may be a good thing or a bad thing, but the fact is, right now you can be published only minutes after finishing your draft. The new ebook publishing programs mean that you don’t need an agent or a lucky meeting to guarantee your book is published, but beware: Just because you can publish instantly doesn’t mean you should. Check your draft, get it read, give it a break and read it again yourself. Get a good artist to design your cover. Unless you’re just in it for the cachet of dropping “I published my book the other day” into conversations…..
- You are part of an immense heritage. Storytelling may not be the Oldest Profession, but it goes back millennia. Watch how young children crave stories, how adults rush to buy the latest recommendations. Stories speak to all of us, fill a need that everyone feels from time to time. YOU can fill that need, and be one with Plato, Homer (not the cartoon, get a grip) Shakespeare, Faulkner, Dickens. And yes, Tom Clancy, ok.
- (Via Jenn Thorson, after an appeal for help) “I love how transporting it can be when the writing is going well and everything around me disappears; the story and I are alone as the scene unfolds. It’s what Stephen King, I believe, has called “falling through the page.” It feels like the perfect balance of work and amusement, and time loses meaning. It’s a great feeling to be that at-one with creativity.”
- (Via Amy Knepper) “Writing rocks because I can play with my imaginary friends, and kill them if they make me angry.”
- (Via Laurie Laliberte) “Chicks dig writers“
- The big one. Because everyone, at some time in their life, wants to be a writer. Everyone dreams of holding a book in their hands and saying “This is mine, these words are mine. I wrote this.” People may dream of it for the success that comes to writers like JK Rowling, or the fame that clings to Salinger despite comparatively little output, or just to see something they made in a shop window. But everyone has dreamed of being a writer, and if you write, then you ARE a writer. And that rocks.