Writing When You’re Not a Writer Who Can’t Not Write

Today’s guest post is from freelance writer Ryan Urie, who has left the security of his “real job” behind to realize his dream of writing full-time.

Why do you write?

Over and over other authors tell me “I write because I can’t not write!” At which point I turn a little green with envy, duck my head, and slink away feeling a little self-conscious and completely unworthy as a writer because, let me tell you, not writing is the easiest thing in the world for me.

I can “not write” for days.  I can do it for weeks.  Sometimes I even pull it off for months or years at a time!  Between work, family, friends, pets, housework, hobbies, TV, and the Internet, I really can’t imagine anything simpler than not writing.

Am I Doomed?

When I hear other writers make this claim, they often assert it as a quality universal to all writers, like some shared addiction.  If I don’t feel the same compulsion, does that make me a fraud?  Are my writing aspirations merely presumptuous and insincere?  Am I doomed to be a wannabe writer who should just give up now and leave the work of wordsmithing to those who have it in their blood?

Of course not.

But first let me say, to those of you who are compelled to write, more power to you.  You have my envy, and I hope you relish this gift you’ve been given, because for those of us for whom writing is a deliberate choice, the going can be a little rough.

Writing does not pull us away from life’s other demands; to the contrary we write in spite of every other aspect of our lives insisting on its own precedence.  We have to barricade the door and tie ourselves to our chairs just to keep from getting up a third time in an hour to get a drink, use the bathroom, or complete an errand.  We have to unplug the router just so we don’t go to look up a reference and end up losing an hour reading the news or checking Facebook.  We have to carve out time in our daily schedules, set alarms, recite affirmations, and force ourselves to stay at the computer or notebook even when the words won’t come.

To quote Dorothy Parker, “I hate writing, I love having written.”

A Thousand Distractions . . .

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I hate writing.  It’s just that there are a thousand things I could do at this very moment that would be both easier and more instantly gratifying.  I could watch a show, play a computer game, read a book, listen to music, go for a walk, visit a friend, have some ice cream, play with the cat, take a nap, etc.  So when I do sit down to write, it’s not because that’s what I fall naturally into.  Rather, each word, sentence, and paragraph is a deliberate act of will.

But if I don’t write for the sake of writing, then why do I do it at all?

Personally, I write because it’s how I find meaning and beauty in life’s chaos.  I write because I want to help others think and feel more deeply.  I write to inform and inspire, to entertain and to clarify my own thoughts and feelings.  I write because I long to say something authentic and true in resistance to the ever-more-artificial world I live in.  I write because I want something tangible to show for how I spend my day.

It’s a means to a higher end.

Focus on the Deeper Purpose

Hopefully you already have some sense of what the deeper purpose is that drives you to write in spite of the alternative ways you could spend your time.  But if not, try asking yourself the following questions (and actually write out the answers):

  • How do I hope my writing will improve other people’s lives?
  • What difference would I like to see my writing make in the world?
  • If I was 100% successful and achieved all my writing aspirations, how would my life be different?  How would other people’s lives or the world around me be different?

If you find that your goals revolve around wealth or fame, that’s okay, but I would suggest there are easier ways to get there than the incessant mental struggle that is writing.  I would also suggest that wealth and fame are not the kinds of motivation that will be conducive to authentic, deeply felt writing that people can relate to.  Consider digging a little deeper and trying to find how your writing can be a means to serve others.

For those of us who are not writers who can’t not write, the key is to be aware of why we do write anyway, what we hope to accomplish, and what the act of writing means to us.

Then the next time a fellow author smugly tells you that they write because they can’t not, you can respond confidently with, “I write because I want to inspire people to better themselves,” or “I write to seek out truth and beauty,” or “I write because I want to create a better world,” and hold your head high.

You may struggle to write, as do I, but the fact that you do it anyway is what makes you a real writer.

What’s the greater purpose behind your writing?  Please leave a comment below!

Ryan Urie is a freelance writer living in Moscow, Idaho.  Check out his other freelancing advice and samples of his creative work at his website here.

 

58 Responses to “Writing When You’re Not a Writer Who Can’t Not Write”

  1. Daniel J. Weber June 17, 2013 at 5:34 am #

    I write because we are a broken people living in a broken world. So often if we make mistakes (whether with words or actions) people will think poorly of us rather than helping us work through why we acted or spoke poorly. Self-esteem issues plague the whole world over, and this is what motivates most (if not all) of what people do and say. Through my writing I want people (and myself) to know that the world isn’t perfect, we are not perfect, but that is okay. Too often in stories we only feel bad when stuff goes wrong for the “good guy.” What about the “bad guy?” What makes him/her act cruelly?

    • Ryan Urie June 17, 2013 at 8:10 am #

      It sounds like you’re very much in touch with the deeper purpose behind your writing, and I’m sure your work is so much better for it. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Jessica Flory June 17, 2013 at 6:46 am #

    Ok. This post is awesome. I thought I was the only writer who felt this way! I mean, I love writing, but sometimes it’s so hard to sit down and actually write. I agree, though, I think that focusing on the deeper reasons we write is fantastic motivation.

  3. Micky Wolf June 17, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    Great insight and perspective. On those occasions when I struggle to write (more often than not) the one thing that always brings me back to the core purpose is the deep desire to affirm and encourage others. There seems little doubt authentic from-the-heart writing can touch our broken places and wounds to bring about healing and hope in ways which transcend time, space, and place. Good stuff, Ryan!

  4. Melissa Bowersock June 17, 2013 at 7:09 am #

    Ryan, I have to say that I’m one of those who can’t not write, but that does not mean it flows easily or endlessly. I, too, struggle with the distractions of life and may not write for days, weeks, even months. But I always come back to it. I have too many stories in my head, and I think if I could not write them down, I’d go nuts. I don’t know any for whom writing is easy. Like Tom Hanks says, “It’s the hard that makes it great.” Good post!

    • Ryan Urie June 17, 2013 at 8:08 am #

      Hi Melissa,
      I’ll take the fact that it’s not easy as a salve for my envy. I like to think that if writing comes too easily for someone they must not be taking very many risks or putting much into it, though I also have to wonder if that’s just something I say to make myself feel better 🙂 Thanks for the good comment!

  5. Ruth June 17, 2013 at 7:23 am #

    This is an Excellent post!! It is one I wish I had written, but had not yet formed a cohesive thought about why I write. I just knew it wasn’t because I HAD to, I wanted to.

    THANK YOU!!!

    Ruth

  6. sibilant June 17, 2013 at 7:34 am #

    Thanks for the Post, Ryan!

    I am definitely not a “can’t not write” person. (I love the triple-negative we’ve got going here!)

    I write because I have momentary visions of what the future could be – some beautiful, some terrible. I want to share those visions with others so that we can work together, deliberately, to build the beautiful future that could be.

    It’s really a struggle for me to turn those insights, those loose ideas, into real stories with plot, characters, and scenes. I just force myself to peck away at it, day after day. Or at least hopefully, more days than not.

    • Ryan Urie June 18, 2013 at 6:48 am #

      Even though it’s a struggle, I think you’re fortunate to be starting with a clear vision that you want to convey. With time and patience you can learn the craft of writing to express that, but even a master writer with no compelling vision will be a failure. In time it will probably get easier, though probably never easy.

  7. Candi Sary June 17, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    Enjoyed reading this post!

  8. Julie Surface Johnson June 17, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    This article is just what I needed and what encourages me to press on despite self-doubt. Even if I am never published, I can still move forward in my desire to make the world a better, more thoughtful place through my writing. Even if I only have an Audience of One, ultimately it’s His approval I want.

    • Ryan Urie June 18, 2013 at 6:51 am #

      I often feel like finding an audience is something like escaping one of those woven Chinese finger traps you get at the fair. Once you give up on growing your audience and trying to force it and just let your writing and creativity flow freely and honestly, that’s when the audience comes. The upshot is, of course, that even if the audience never does come, you can still feel good about the work you’ve done.

  9. cslakin June 17, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    I am a very self-disciplined writer and usually don’t let myself even “go there” about procrastinating, yet it still makes me wonder why I do it. If we love to write, why would we resist digging in? If I have a big chocolate cake in front of me, I would be silly to resist eating it! And writing is so enjoyable at times, I’d think we wouldn’t hesitate. But the truth is, it’s awfully hard work and requires fierce concentration, which sometimes is exhausting.

    Sometimes when I sit down to write, I feel the great burden of creativity on my shoulders. We all pressure ourselves to excel and want our writing to sing. But sometimes the more we try to force that, the more elusive it is. And so that repetitive experience can make us procrastinate as well.

    I know authors that have great success, yet will say they will do anything they can to avoid writing. One thing that helps me is to get out of the house, go to the library or a coffee shop with the determination to get so many hours put in before I can go home. Being at home is the worst distraction, as there are always dishes to do or something that needs dusting.

    • Ryan Urie June 18, 2013 at 6:57 am #

      There was a great quote in the last “Writer’s Digest” by novelist Ross Thomas: “Writing five hours is like ten hours of laying bricks.” I attempted a solo version of NaNoWriMo last month, writing a solid eight hours per day and I can definitely attest to that.

      I also understand the burden of creativity and the “anxiety of influence.” Having spent most of my youth buried in a book, I know full well how much amazingly good writing is already out there and it’s hard to write without comparing my own fledgling efforts to the masters I’ve read previously. It sometimes feels downright presumptuous to think I might have something worthy to add to the canon. I just have to remind myself that all my literary heroes probably felt the same way and pushed on anyhow.

      I’m definitely going to try getting out of the house to write. The distractions are endless here!

    • Brad Baker June 18, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

      Susanne, My home is also the worst distraction for writing and progress on my manuscript been painfully slow the past few months. I recognized this a while ago but have yet to do something about it. Your post inspired me to try alternatives to the room I set up to write. I will try new spots before work, lunch, afterwork and weekends. I plan to try writing in in a 24 hour diner I know of, cafes and other spots that will tolerate my presence. Some have WiFi and soem don’t. I believe that not being online will be a good thing. Interesting possibilities.
      Brad

  10. Laura Zera June 17, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    When it comes to writing, prolific is not a word I’d use for myself. Prolific cat-snuggling napper, oh yes (at least I multitask, right?). I think learning to accept my patterns of productivity has been the hardest part of being a writer, and while sometimes I do think it’s good to force butt in chair sometimes (like when I’ve spent 25 minutes looking for split ends in my hair), other times, a nap is exactly what is needed. I guess what I’m trying to say is that permission plays a role in all of this. Permission to do whatever. And purpose. Definitely purpose. It’s what turns ‘work’ into ‘sacred work.’ Thanks for a great post, Ryan.

  11. Feather Stone June 17, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    I began to write late in life. And only after a paranormal experience that was so profound that it haunted me for days. It was a wonderfully positive experience but, at the same time, it shook me to my toes. I thought the only way to move on was to write about it – for my own personal therapy. After many pages, I saw the journaling project turn into a novel – The Guardian’s Wildchild.

    I became a virtual slave to the excitement of creating another world. Even today, fifteen years later, I’m in awe of the creative power. I surrender and become a tool for some disembodied narrator. I don’t need to sit at the keyboard everyday – but my mind is constantly writing and rewriting and editing.

    The only rational explanation why I write romance is that I have had so little of it in my day to day life. I write to create the passion in my life that is so lacking. I add murder and mystery to add zest. That’s my story and …..

  12. Jane Austin June 17, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    Hi Ryan,

    I loved reading this – it was inspiring and reassuring as I’m just a newbie writer starting out who enjoys connecting with people in every day life. Hopefully I may learn to do it through writing too!

    Thanks,
    Jane

  13. Elaine Cougler June 17, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Ryan, your post speaks to me in such a personal way that I feel you must be speaking only to me. Alas, I am sure you are speaking to a whole host of legions of writers! Are we not the most introspective, uncertain, needy group out there? Or at least in our beginning years, we are. I am thankful that time and experience has allowed me to have more faith in myself as a writer, just as you do. Interesting and provoking post. Thanks!

    • Ryan Urie June 18, 2013 at 7:02 am #

      Your comment reminded me of a great quote by Anne Lamott in “Bird by Bird” (the best book on writing I’ve found):

      “My writer friends, and they are legion, do not go around beaming with quiet feelings of contentment. Most of them go around with haunted, abused, surprised looks on their faces, like lab dogs on whom very personal deodorant sprays have been tested.”

      Thank you for your kind comments!

  14. Elaine Cougler June 17, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    Oops! Sorry for the grammatical error–time and experience have allowed… 🙁

  15. Naomi Bellina June 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    Got to agree with Jessica, awesome post. I’m also glad to hear there are others out there like me. Go us!

  16. Rhonda June 17, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    Ryan, thank you!
    There are times when I ‘have’ to write, but that is usually because I am trying to work a problem out and I have learned that writing is the best way to do that. Generally, I love writing, but sometimes I detest it.

    It’s so good to know that others write because they have something to say. Sometimes I get exhausted listening to yet another person explaining how they will wither up if they don’t write. I think that there is a perception that only ‘true’ writers feel this way.

    But, of course, that is bull. I don’t feel that way, but am every bit as much a writer as those who do. I simply have different motivations for writing.

  17. wendy mccance June 17, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    This article fascinated me. I never knew there were writers who felt this way. I am one of those writers that feel compelled to write as often as possible. For me, it can get out of hand and a little obsessive. I have to admit, I’m a little jealous of you. I would rather write than socialize. I have to remind myself that I have a life to live and hiding behind a computer for too many hours/days is just not a healthy way to live.

  18. Jeff Carson June 17, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    Great post Ryan.
    I also liked what CS said about not letting herself “go there” about procrastinating. That’s so key I think, and pertains to pretty much anything we do that’s worthwhile — working out, writing, shaving — it’s all the same.

    • Ryan Urie June 18, 2013 at 7:04 am #

      I’ve found that sometimes the guilt of procrastinating can be a lot more detrimental than the procrastinating itself, and also that some of my most productive days are the ones where I put in a good, solid twenty minutes of writing, piss away forty minutes on a “break,” and then repeat several times. To remind myself not to get down on myself for not being more diligent, I have a quote by Einstein above my computer:

      “Creativity is the residue of time wasted.”

  19. Marie Lavender June 17, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

    This is a good article, Ryan. I have to agree. When I’m in the moment, it comes naturally. And that’s great. But, other times, it’s like pulling teeth to get myself to sit down and actually do it. Because you’re right. There are a thousand distractions in everyday life. And how can we possibly ignore them all? I guess we have to find the time to do it somehow.

    Writing can be as necessary as breathing because it is very fulfilling. But, one can go without it for a time. I sometimes wonder if that period away from it eats away at your soul. Because it does feel empty without it.

    I guess I write for the simple joy of it, as well as the pain. How can you not get drawn into the drama of your characters or feel the despair if you haven’t picked up a pen or touched the keyboard in awhile? There is joy, though, loads of it, when something works perfectly, when a scene simply flows out of you. And there is pain when you have to do the hard work of researching or promoting it. You become attached to it like a pet or a child. It came from you, therefore it is a part of you. To step away from it feels strange.

    And yet, you can still breathe and live your days out without writing. It will feel wrong on a base level, but you probably can survive. This is why it can sometimes take years to write a novel. Because it’s that easy to step away from it so often. But, should we? Should we dare to step back from that lovely peace we find in writing? Let me know if you ever find the answer. I don’t think I can step back too much or it may destroy me. Crazy words, I know, but it takes a little insanity to be a writer. 🙂

    • Ryan Urie June 18, 2013 at 7:08 am #

      Like I said in the article, I find it all too easy to step away for long periods of time. I got my bachelor’s degree in creative writing, but the academic process was so rigorous, so wedded to the inhuman philosophical abstractions of literary theory, and so generally hostile to simple, honest, communication that after I graduate I didn’t write a thing for almost eight years (that will be the topic of a future post, I’m sure). Nonetheless, no other job I did in that interim filled me the way writing does. I always felt like I was just putting in time until I got to the “real thing” which I guess is what writing is for me. Not that that makes it the least bit easier to sit down and do 🙂

  20. Becky Fyfe June 18, 2013 at 3:50 am #

    I think when people say that they “can’t NOT write,” they aren’t being literal. I feel as if I am one of those people, because, even though I can procrastinate with the best of them and have to struggle to fit my writing time into my day and not to let myself get distracted from it, through it all, the niggly voice in the back of my head won’t go away. Through all of the activities I do and throughout the day, that voice is still there, whispering to me “You should be writing.”

    • Ryan Urie June 18, 2013 at 7:12 am #

      You’re probably right. I think I was inspired to write this post as a kind of self-defense against those people who either don’t struggle to write, or who pretend they don’t, because I always feel a little less confident when I hear people say they “can’t not write.” I wanted to affirm for myself and others that it’s okay to struggle and flail.

  21. Kathy Andrews June 18, 2013 at 7:34 am #

    I am not a writer but I really appreciate the article. As a transcriptionist I am available for the writers who have trouble putting their thoughts into print. This might not work for the seasoned writer who has no trouble getting their works put into the printed form. However, if you are a writer who has to struggle getting it in the printed form but can speak their work I am available to put it into the print.

  22. Curtis June 18, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    What if your manuscript demands that you kill off a character that you really like?

    THAT can make you want to be elsewhere . . .

  23. Barbara Hales June 18, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    Ryan
    You have expressed some beautiful sentiments.
    It really elevates writing to a more noble cause
    (despite getting paid for it, LOL)

  24. CeCe Benningfield June 18, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    Someone once told me “There are a lot of people out there that talk about writing a novel but have never finished their novel. The one sure way to write a novel is to put butt in chair and write.” I think about that paraphrase (not exact words but close) often when I am watching TV or doing something other than writing.

    • Melanie June 19, 2013 at 4:54 am #

      What a heartening piece, Ryan, and like another poster has said, it seems as if it has been written for me alone! The comments here make me realise that there are so many of us who “struggle and flail.” There have been times when bursts of creativity have come upon me and I have written with a sense of compulsion. At others, it appears as if I am looking for an excuse to get it done the next day and the next and so on… Though an absorbing process, writing can be tough because of the focus that is demanded. Good luck to all the writers who have posted here and many thanks to you, Ryan.

  25. Nicolette Ure June 19, 2013 at 1:07 am #

    I aspire to write because I love words…creatively & cleverly put together they can evoke so much emotion. I have many ideas tripping over each other to win their place on the page, but sadly after the first few descriptive lines, I seem to lose interest or perhaps impetus. Why is this – is it perhaps because I am channelling too much emotional energy into a a few words?

    • Ryan Urie June 19, 2013 at 6:30 am #

      One of my biggest hangups as a writer is perfectionism. It’s almost painful for me to put down a piece of bad writing and just leave it to come back later. I want everything to be perfect the first time, and I almost wonder if this urge to make your words just right is what’s holding you back as well.

      I’m coming to conclude that a commitment to writing is a commitment to doing lots of bad writing… and fixing it later. For what it’s worth, even when I do finish a chapter of what feels like “perfect” writing at the time, it always gets about ten times better after a single revision. So I guess my advice would be to just write and write and write and know you can fix (or delete!) it later. While trying to write a quality novel in a month is a ridiculous challenge, I found that participating in NaNoWriMo was great practice for pumping out the words.

  26. Kimberly Kiharik June 19, 2013 at 6:00 am #

    Thanks so much for this article, Ryan. I have to confess, I was actually having one of “distraction” moments when I found it. I’ve been struggling for the past few years, completely envious of all the writers I know who can just write pages and pages effortlessly over a matter of hours while I struggle to write a few paragraphs. Your article made me feel so much better. So, thanks again! And I think I’ll get back to my story now.

  27. Ryan Urie June 19, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    Thank you everyone for your keen insights and kind words. It’s been a great reminder to me of why it is I write, and has me excited to get on to the next article. Thank you all so much!

  28. Gayle June 19, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    This was awesome and well thought out. Hopefully I can get back to writing now. I start then stop, need to be more determined and not worry so much about what others might think about what I write. I write to help others think through their situations with a lighter heart and not get so pulled under by what is happening. That seems to be what I am doing, allowing what others might think pull me under. For each one that is offended there are a dozen others that are helped. So no more worry, just write as I feel it at the time and God will bless it.
    Thanks again.

  29. Mary Deal June 19, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    That’s a nice informative article. I usually ask myself those specific questions after I’ve written a story. It’s my intention from deep within to give something the reader can use. However, if I begin by writing a message I wish to convey, I am then writing for the reading audience, saying what I think they wish to know. That doesn’t work for me. Even in writing fiction, my intention is clear and good when I begin to write, knowing I am saying something of value, but I must write for myself. I have a story to tell and I want to say it my way. So I consider the ramifications of those questions slightly during the writing and always afterwards. What I find is that the climax and denouement of each story offers up the lessons learned from the actions of my characters. As writers, we should always ask ourselves these questions that make our stories have value, just some of us do it much later in the writing process than others.

    • Ryan Urie June 21, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

      I agree that starting a story with an overt message you hope to convey is a recipe for stilted characters and a synthetic plot line. It is much better to let any lessons arise organically from the characters’ interactions and experiences. The questions in the post are not something I ask as I’m in the act of writing, but are more of a means to motivate myself to write when distractions come calling. Sure TV and games would be a lot more fun, but they leave you empty-handed at day’s end. By asking myself those questions it reminds me that writing can add something of lasting substance to my life.

  30. Napoleon Nalcot June 19, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    Writing is my passion–a gift I’ve had discovered way back when I was in my third grade. Our teacher asked us to write something about the experiences we’ve had during the last summer vacation. I wrote about the vacation I’ve had spent in my paternal grandmother’s hometown in Leyte. It was my first attempt at writing a story and that kind of thing has since never left me; it somehow lodged in deep within myself like a fountain of something that never dries out.

  31. Frank Tuttle June 20, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    Thank you! I thought I was the only writer working who fends off the urge to close Word and start Skyrim with each and every keystroke.

    I write because I am slightly more stubborn than I am lazy. But only slightly. And I hope people enjoy my work.

    • Ryan Urie June 21, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

      I hear you. As a writer video games are my curse, though I might also go crazy without them so who knows. I’ve discovered that sharing my writing through my blog and writers’ group has been very motivational however, giving me some of the gratification and sense of accomplishment I get from games, but for something real. The more I can get motivated by seeing others benefit from my work, the less I need to rely on outright stubbornness, as valuable a quality as that can be.

  32. Cindy Little June 20, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    What a great post! I too struggle with writing and am envious of those who seem “addicted” to their craft. I especially like the part about deeper motivation. Honestly, I don’t know what mine is yet. Perhaps having people enjoy what I write–kinda like cooking a nice meal for others then see them satisfied after they leave the table.

    • Ryan Urie June 21, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

      Perhaps your motivation will come through the act of writing itself over time. You might also try something as simple as asking yourself how you wish you, the people around you, or society at large was different, and then how writing might help bring that about. For example, I’m constantly frustrated by the cynicism and pessimism I see in the media and in the griping of friends and acquaintances, so one of the reasons I want to write is to try to remind people how much good there is in the world and all the reasons there are to be hopeful.

      I’d suggest that if you do feel compelled to write, there probably is a deeper reason. You just have to press on until it reveals itself. Best of luck

  33. Jenn June 20, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    Ryan,
    I definitely fall into your court. Writing does not come easily to me. However, I celebrate those folks who can make a living at it.

    I am an Epic level procrastinator. I love to tell stories. I love to write when the muse possesses me. But lately, more often than not, my efforts are derailed by the myriad of other things I could be doing. Also, my muse strikes at the most inopportune of times, like during normal work hours for my day job. If I do happen to be working on my story, I often run off on a research tangent. Honestly, it’s more like an archaeological dig. Eventually I end up chasing a fluffy white rabbit down a hole. Recently I derailed and found myself looking up something as seemingly inane as “do they have fireflies in Scotland?”. It’s actually not inane, but sometimes the research gets in the way of putting pen to paper or electronic character to word document. As for higher purposes, I like to write for entertainment. To offer a momentary release from a world that seems to have gone mad. To bring a sense of magic and wonder back to the world, if only for a moment.

  34. Michelle June 20, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    Actually I think that writing because you can’t not write, and struggling *to* write are flip sides of the same damnable coin, attached to a very heavy chain that is tied around the neck of every writer.

    • Ryan Urie June 21, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

      That reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Thomas Mann:

      “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

  35. Jennifer June 21, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this post! I always thought there was something wrong with me that I have such a strong desire to write but find writing so difficult. I loved what you said about focusing on the deeper purpose of my writing. This was so encouraging to me.

    Btw, I grew up on the Palouse. It’s lovely and I still miss it.

  36. DukeDavis June 22, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

    I am coming off s two and a half year hiatus as a writer. My health has firmly, squarely, and succinctly, kicked my butt. I have had some sever health conditions that edged on ending my life. I am now on the path to health and am restarting my writing with “Bells on” so to speak. I am full of fresh new material and it stands ready to spread itself on the screen in front of me. Now between a bad ticker and kidneys that were in free-fall, I am bursting at the scenes.

    For what the normal writer’s block situations call for. First, I don’t believe too heavily in writer’s block. Sure, I have a few stories laying around where the words quot flowing. That’s not writer’s block. That’s a situation where you have written yourself into a hole. What you do with them is start deleting backwards for probably half the material, then start rewriting the story. You will usually find that you will write yourself out if that hole and keep the story rolling.

    I NEVER work on one piece at the time. I may well start out with one piece.

  37. DukeDavis June 22, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    I am coming off s two and a half year hiatus as a writer. My health has firmly, squarely, and succencently, kicked my butt. I have had some sever health conditions that edged on ending my life. I am now on the path to health and am restarting my writing with “Bells on” so to speak. I am full of fresh new material and it stands ready to spread itself on the screen in front of me. Now between a bad ticker and Kidneys that were in free-fall, I am bursting at the scenes.

    For what the normal writer’s block situations call for. First, I don’t believe too heavily in writer’s block. Sure, I have a few stories laying around where the words quot flowing. That’s not writer’s block. That’s a situation where you have written yourself into a hole. What you do with them is start deleting backwards for probably half the material, then start rewriting the story. You will usually find that you will write yourself out if that hole and keep the story rolling.

    I NEVER work on one piece at the time. I may well start out with one piece in the LAUNCH FOLDER. But it doesn’t take long before another idea flips its way into my mind and it starts to influence what I am doing so it becomes its own story. I will sit there and write till one drys up but then change to another and continue down the road. Right now I have six novels going….Nicely.

  38. Janine June 23, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    Ironically, I had called it an early night after wasting time playing card games on my Droid and avoiding editing and polishing up a blog post I had started. Then I changed my mind about how I was going to end my day, got out of bed and came in search of “Writing for Life” – the one place I can come and recognize myself in the joy as well as the angst of other writers.

    Distractions? There are as many as we can make. Reasons for not writing? To name a few: I don’t know how to make money at it; I don’t even know if anyone except a few friends on Facebook even read it – or like it; this sofa really isn’t all that comfortable for writing.

    And then there’s the reason I do write and have ‘forced’ myself to get back to a blog I put aside a year and a half ago and now post to at least weekly. I want to make people smile, and feel, and connect with life’s simplest, happiest, saddest, most uninteresting moments. Someone recently said my blog reminded them of Erma Bombeck – there is no greater compliment as far as I’m concerned. So I write, and I get distracted, and I fight internally with whether it’s worth it.

    It is… and coming across writers like you makes it even more so. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  39. cslakin June 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    Ryan, thanks so much for sharing so many great insights and thoughts on this topic!

  40. Sandy June 27, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    I am a writer who has to write, but it’s hard to corral myself into focusing and finishing a big project.

  41. Steven July 6, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    Stephen,
    I am a poet. I would like to publish my poems. I found that Lithasa is also doing the poem publishing. I found about lithasa in an article and also seen a guy talking about lithasa in a big way. They are good. they have defined a new publishing format and the design is so good. But have guys know about it? let me know. I am thinking to publish my poems and atleast earn what I deserve rather giving them to some publisher who don’t even care about me.
    This is their website. http://www.lithasa.com//

  42. Pam Sims July 29, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    Ryan, thank you for those words. I have heard that same saying and have often wonderedm, “what about me, I struggle to write,” I live a busy life and apart from finding time to write my life is full and sometimes I stuggle with writing just for the sake of saying that I did. I write when words come. I write because, like so many fellow writers I want to make a difference. I used to worry that no one would readmy book or my blog but then something happens and that one person comments or I see that 10 people read the blog or that someone wants a copy of my book and then I realize that it is not about me anyway! Who am I to decide the success of my work in light of eternity. My hearts desire is to empty myself of me and let God be God and leave the results of what He gives me to write to Him. Of course I must be willing to become the vessel He can use and at times I fall short, then I write!!

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