Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Writing 101: By the Way, No One Gets It

As a writer, part of your job is to describe new settings, scenarios and ways of life to readers. I personally will never know what it's like to be an ER nurse who is helping the police investigate a series of hospital murders, but I can go find that book and read all about it. You can put your readers anywhere and make them feel anything...with one exception. When you try to tell ordinary civilians what you're personally going through as a writer, they won't ever really get it.


Screaming at the Wind

Have you ever stood outside and screamed into the wind? It rips your voice away and swallows your syllables, until there's nothing left but you, standing there with a red face. This exercise is actually more effective than trying to explain what it's like to be a writer to all your friends and family.

You can put your readers on top of a mountain or down in a subterranean world inhabited by mole people, but you can't ever really tell a non-writer what it is to be a writer. Your friends and family look at you and see a sister. A dad. A wife. A son. They don't see that sometimes, you're none of these things. They don't see that you're really a prisoner of paragraphs and punctuation. They look at you and they listen to you talk about how hard it is to write, and they will never understand one basic truth.

They look at you, and they think that you made a choice to be a writer. What they don't realize, and never will, is that you don't have a choice and never did. Being a writer is never a choice. Words fly across your brain like text on a page. Ideas and situations come to you from nowhere. Stories find you at night and whisper in your ear. And you know, and I know, that you never had a choice in the matter.

But no non-writer is ever really going to get that. They will never know that you're really not a master of words. You're a prisoner of them. You're not in control of those books. When you realize something about your villain and drop whatever you're doing to go make a note or re-write that paragraph, the story is controlling you. And it's always going to.

They're not going to "get it," no matter how much you try to make them. When you get lonely, when you get sad, when you feel like you've been screaming at the wind for days, remember this: you are not the only prisoner out there. Other writers do understand. Use social media to find them and connect with them, and compare the size of your shackles. When no one else gets it, another writer will...and I do, too.

[+/-] Show Full Post...


  1. OMG! You're right! "Words fly across your brain like text on a page. Ideas and situations come to you from nowhere. Stories find you at night and whisper in your ear." That's me! It's nice to know I'm not alone...

  2. You're not, Susan! So glad you liked the post.