Writers write for different reasons, different purposes, and like fingerprints, no two of them are the same. I read an article today by Dan Wells, modern-day author of a horror series called the ‘John Cleaver Series’, who talked about how he doesn’t write for any other reason than to tell a story that must come out.
That’s one way to do it.
Others write to get paid; let’s face it, there are those of us out there who follow the often overly used adage of ‘do what you love.’ Even others because they know they’re good at it and that’s what they want to do. There are multiple reasons to write. It can be anything you want it to be. You don’t have to be a writer of goblins and zombies. You can just as easily be a freelance writer who takes on any job if it pays well enough. You can write about sports, engineering, how to install hardwood floors, or how Keeping Up with the Kardashians is an essential element of American education (fact). If you want to be a writer, you have to write. You can read all you want to (encouraged), and talk about writing to whomever for as long as you want to, but none of that will put your fingers on the keys.
At the end of the day, it’s about being committed, seeing it through. It also depends on your goals. It can be whatever you’d like it to be, whatever you dream it to be. But in order to realize the big dreams, you have to have the big heart and the determination to do the hard work. It’s just like anything; you have to put in the time. You just have to put in that time over and over and over, and before you know it, you’ve improved. It helps to harken back to one of those antiquated quotation of relevance similar to the one spoken by Shakespeare’s Iago in Othello regarding patience.
There are people in this life we idolize, places we use as the backdrops of our dreams, and conversations, which, regardless of our defiance of the fact, render themselves immortal. Bidden or not, they visit us regardless, as much during the waking day as they do when we sleep. These are unlike the countless other merciful gypsies of the world of the incorporeal world, those who understand that form and formless alike are separate beings, each with its own desire, destination, and hunger. What I speak of here are those who reject that separation, reject the laws of independence of life travel. I speak here of those dream aggressors who use their own formlessness to pester, invade, and eventually command their targets. I’m speaking of those things of dream that begin with harmless intent, by saying something simple, something like, “give me a hand?”
I wrote the above a couple of weeks ago and put it aside. Then, last night in a daze I opened up the document again and reread it.
What in the world was I talking about? I shook my head then as I do now; I haven’t the slightest idea as to what I was going on about. It was important to me, clearly. It was something I had to get down, but I cannot recall where I was going. But looking back, it doesn’t matter. I’m certainly not going to allow myself to become emotionally or professionally unhinged simply because I didn’t know where I was going. It was a free-write, and therein lay a lesson.
The writer writes. It’s the first rule Neil Gaiman lists in his top eight rules for writing. It’s not just him, either. Many others have publicly given the same advice, and it would by my supposition that writers worldwide (even those who have passed) would tell you that without that first rule, there’s nothing “writerly” about your professed position as a ‘writer.’
That’s really all you need. Yes, yes, there is the whole thing about getting it edited, copy-edited, finding an agent, getting it published, marketing it, and so on and so forth. But you don’t need to worry about any of that right now. Worry about that when you get there.
That’s it. Right now all you have to worry about is putting the words down on the page. If you’ve ever seen the wonderful writing-inspired movie, Finding Forester, you know that there should be very little thinking up front. All that complex work comes later.
Right now, just the words.