When my much beloved friends who are not writers ask me about my process, Iʻm often fascinated by the ideas they have about words and writing. And itʻs hard to explain, because all of us writers work differently, so it makes sense that the whole time consuming and sometimes mysterious process would be confusing to our non-writing supporters.
I mean, my process and your process are different — as different as our writing! How could anyone guess what the writing life really feels like, in all its randomness and carpal tunnel?
Some people think that writing has to happen, like a job, 8 hours a day, or think that it happens always in brilliant 20 minute bursts, or that there are rules that every writer follows (or should follow.) If only!
Some people wonder why we bother, since writing rarely makes anyone rich. If itʻs not making money, is it art? If itʻs not our job, are we working?? Well, if weʻre not working, then why is it sometimes so HARD? Hmmmmm….
My personal favorite of all the myths is that the best writers are alcoholics because they are tortured geniuses. Which, if applied to the rest of the world means most writers wouldnʻt qualify to be called writers because we donʻt self-medicate enough or feel the torment of those famous writers in the movies.
Sometimes, I just have to laugh. The myth of the tortured artist has to be the WORST model for good writing Iʻve ever encountered. I may occasionally weep over a character I love or obsess about an intense writing puzzle, but I have never staggered drunk and hallucinating to the computer to tap-dance with the devil-muse of poetry! (Like every writer, I learned early on that drunken writing equals BAD writing. And sometimes a messy computer!)
If only these myths werenʻt as powerful to us writers as they are for people who donʻt particularly care about being one! We not only have to explain our writing process to our friends and family, we have to learn how to explain it to ourselves!
Itʻs a crazy world! Write on!