Writers Who Hate Writing
Sometimes I wonder whether I’m really cut out to be a writer. Not because I think I’m a talentless hack, mind you. I firmly believe that anyone can master an art if they apply themselves. Writing is no different. Any lack of ability on my part could be mitigated with enough practice. No, what’s bothering me is the simple fact that I don’t really like writing.
Actually, that’s going to far. I like writing. It is a very enjoyable experience and my life would be diminished without it. The problem is that I don’t want to write. I don’t want to be creative. I mean I want to, naturally. I want to write books, make movies, learn how to draw, play an instrument, etc. But I don’t want to actually start writing, filming, sketching, or practicing. There are so many things that are both easier and more fulfilling in the short term. I could read an interesting article on the internet, look at funny pictures, watch a movie, read a book, or even do the dishes. I am an incurable lazybones.
So it’s natural that I sometimes wonder whether I’m cut out for this kind of thing at all. There are some people that can write for hours on end. Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in only nine days. The very idea frightens me. I feel like I’d rather bake bread or build birdhouses for 9 days straight than write. So why do I want to be a writer at all?
Still I will not be disheartened because I know I’m in good company. One of the most inspirational comments I ever heard came from my English Professor. He was a man who obviously knew his stuff, and a bit of a aspiring writer himself (of the fancy pants “literary short stories” kind which I’m usually not a fan of, but still). He certainly was much more a writer than I am. Yet one day he mentioned to us that he had a lot of trouble actually sitting down and writing. He would find any distraction possible in order to get out of writing. Normally hated chores suddenly became pleasant distractions. He’d rather grade hundreds of papers than write another short story. Still he was a writer and he loved writing. I take his words to heart, and they’ve been a great encouragement to me.
Another writer who encourages me is Roald Dahl. I enjoyed his children books, of course, though I always managed to read the ones that were less popular. I didn’t read James and the Giant Peach or Matilda until I was a teenager, but my bookshelves held such classics as Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, The Twits, and The Giraffe, the Pelly, and Me. To most people Roald Dahl is nothing more than a children’s author, but as I entered my teens I discovered (through the useful medium of my older brother) Dahl’s large collection of short stories. Most of these stories were deciding not for children, and often featured grotesque, outlandish, and overall strangely twisted characters. I ate them up. He became one of my favorite authors and I later had the immense pleasure of getting to read his autobiography Boy (which is actually one of two autobiographies, and only covers his childhood). In it I found a quote that still comforts me whenever I feel that I don’t enjoy writing enough to be a writer. He writes:
“The life of a writer is absolute hell compared with the life of a businessman. The writer has to force himself to work. He has to make his own hours and if he doesn’t go to his desk at all there is nobody to scold him. If he is a writer of fiction he lives in a world of fear. Each new day demands new ideas and he can never be sure whether he is going to come up with them or not. Two hours of writing fiction leaves this particular writer absolutely drained. For those two hours he has been miles away, he has been somewhere else, in a different place with totally different people, and the effort of swimming back into normal surroundings is very great. It is almost a shock. The writer walks out of his workroom in a daze. He wants a drink. He needs it. It happens to be a fact that nearly every writer of fiction in the world drinks more whisky than is good for him. He does it to give himself faith, hope and courage. A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul and that I am sure is why he does it.”
I know I want to be a writer. So I’ll keep plugging away at it, even if I don’t enjoy it as much as I think I should.
(This has all been a very roundabout way of saying that I’m sorry and that I’ll be trying my hardest to get the blog back to updating three times a week)