Secrets from the Writing Desk

Have you ever had the visual in your head of a writer sitting down at a typewriter or computer with the words just flowing with brilliance and eloquence in one never ending string of beauty?

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Well, I have a hard truth for you.  Are you ready?  Writing isn’t like that.  That’s a fiction created for movies and TV.  The uncomfortable truth is that writing is hard.  It will frustrate you as much as it gives you a high unlike any you’ve ever felt.  There will be days when you just want to chuck and all and stick with your day job.  That’s the difference between reality and fiction.  Reality is messy and ugly sometimes, often more than it is beautiful.  Fiction can take all of the ugly things and put them into a neater and more palatable package.

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Sometimes the only thing that can keep you on the writing path through all of the hard times, the writer’s block, the frustration, the slogging through a million words is your passion for those words.  If you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else, if you get annoyed with other things in your life because they take away from your writing time, if the you couldn’t stop the words from flowing out of you if you tried, you may be a writer.

Wordsworth writing But is that all that’s required to be a writer?

Sadly, no.  Because once you’ve “filled your paper with the breathings of your heart,” then comes the editing.  The hard work of organizing, tightening, clarifying, cutting, and adding.  The job of a writer is communication, and if your reader can’t understand what you’re trying to communicate, then what’s the point?  If all you want to do is spill your guts on the page, then perhaps a journal would be the right venue.  But if you want to share your writing with others, it’s your job to help them understand.

There are hundreds, even thousands of people who have put their thoughts down on paper.  But the numbers are much smaller for those who have taken the necessary next steps to bring a coherent piece to other readers.  That is the line that separates a professional from an amateur, in my opinion.  A professional keeps pushing through past the catharsis of getting their words on paper, past the blocks, the frustration, the criticism.  A professional is always learning, always trying to improve the work.

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Anyone can wish and dream, but it takes hard work to turn a wish into reality.