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Here is a piece about a part of writing that we don't hear many writers talk about.
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The Most Underrated Part Of Writing - Op-Ed Piece
As I lie in bed, unable to move my neck from a recent injury, I begin to worry about a blog article I should have written. “Damn,” I think. “How the hell can I write if I can’t get out of bed?” I took some more Advil and then went back to sleep, knowing the article about that Groen book or another Seinfeld article will have to wait for another day.
When I woke up, I took my random thought seriously and developed it further into the article you are reading coincidently. I did what any sane writer would do, and I took some more Advil and started typing away. The words capture the mind of a writer like that of a fish in the net, and you are best to give in at that point. Sure, I am injured, and I need to readjust my head to keep it straight as I do this, but I view that as an opportunity to write something I wouldn’t have written, not as a time for non-action.
Yes, that is the type of writer I am. When I experience pain or misfortune, I don’t view it as a loss entirely, for once I am comfortable in the situation’s outcome (I know that I will be healed in a week or so), I think of the event as a chance to write something new. Was I planning on writing an article about being hurt when I woke up this morning? No, because I struggled to get out of bed, but here we are. Going with the flow takes you to oceans you never knew existed. It also gets you lying on your bed early in the morning on more pills than an addict. It is a two-way street or river. (I lost track of the analogy, but you get the point)
You know, there is something to a writer being physically capable of writing the words in them so that they don’t struggle or result in further injury. We often view writing as a mental exercise, when the brain and the creativity are at the forefront as if they are done without any help from the body. I am not going to say that it isn’t true, for the mental side of writing should always outweigh the physical, but I do say that we don’t ever give any credit to the writer for being able to write the words.
I am not talking about the grammatical errors that a copy editor should pick up, the punctuation followed only by some words, the storytelling and character development that enrapture a reader’s imagination, or the literary devices that enhance the story. No, I am talking about the literal act of sitting in one spot for a long period of time and then recording words on a piece of paper or a laptop, or whatever device the writer is using. It seems like an easy task; after all, who can’t sit in one spot for a few hours? The movie industry has created billions of dollars on the idea that people don’t mind sitting in one spot for a few hours. I don’t know how easy it all is if, after a minor neck injury, I was out of commission for a few days. Sure, when you are healthy, jumping up and down, sitting down, and staring at a computer screen for a few hours each day seems easy, but when you are injured or unable to do so, the whole experience changes. It is amazing how one minor change can alter the difficulty of the situation.
I don’t want to make it seem like sitting and writing words is the most difficult task around, and that typing is to be considered an Olympic sport next time around. I know that there are some camps that push for the activities such as chess or playing video games as a sport, on the same level, as football or basketball, and I am not saying that with writing. I just want to be clear about that before some of you get on me for saying that I am claiming writing is a sport. It is not. Don’t be that ignorant. A little ignorance is natural, and part of the fun of life, but a lot of ignorance can lead to a shallow life of unexplored possibilities and expectations. And I am not even going to debate about chess or video games being a sport. Because I am hurt, and I have better things to do.
I have learned a few things in life about managing my time. Don’t read Ulysses; you live once; it isn’t worth it. Debating with idiots is a dumb idea. They are given that label for a reason, making the debate pointless and a waste on your end. Time is measured in memories you make as much as anything else. When you look back on something, you don’t look back on the actual time you were doing it but the feelings you had while doing it because time does matter, but what you do with it is more so. Let’s get back to the writing, though.
Writers need two things in order to be able to write. No, I am not talking about being good at it; I am talking about doing it physically. First, they need what I already mentioned, the physical capability to do it. I was unable to write because of the injury. I couldn’t walk better yet sit in a chair for a prolonged period of time to create original sentences. Where is the AI-generated article when you need it? Am I right? (That was just a writing joke. AI will never talk about the back pain they had while writing. How can they!)
Also, I want to give a shout-out to a friend of mine, Brooke Smith, who proves that just because she can’t type as fast as the other writers doesn’t mean she can’t do it. She has a disorder where she is in a wheelchair and can only type with one hand, but when I first read her work, I didn’t know that. I only read the style of a creative girl. I remember that I joked about her writing speed without realizing that she would not be able to type as fast as the other writers. I didn’t mention it to her, but I felt bad for the inappropriate comment I made to her. I am all for joking with people who are my friends about whatever they want to talk about. I know a few guys who say things that are not the most PC around, but I am okay with it, as I see no harm in their behavior if it is directed towards me as a joke. If I don’t know you, I tend to side with the more professional approach since sarcasm is tough to do with a stranger who may not get the joke. Anyway, Brooke Smith did a great job writing on this site as she was here. The last time we spoke, she said she was working on a novel. I am glad that her physical limitations don’t stop her creative juices because it was always a pleasure for me to edit her work when she wrote for this site.
I find writers are not those who wish to get published or do it as a professional job, although, yes, that is part of it. Writers write because they have to, for the muse in them speaks a story they feel they must tell. Did Brooke ever complain about her disability to me and say that it got in her way? No, she, like, had to write as a way of life. It isn’t about being published or even read to the real writers out there. How do you know this? Well, if the person is unable to write a short story with both hands, or the guy needs a neck brace in order to complete the article, yet, they somehow still write a story, then I would say that person is a real writer.
Don’t show me the bestseller list if you want me to see real writers. Show me the writers who make no money but still produce great work. Show me the writer who failed so many times before success that the success with the money they gained is so irrelevant to their words they feel compelled to tell another story. Don’t show me the happy anecdotes of the writers who got lucky by writing a story on everyone’s minds, but show me the sad ones, where the writers gave their heart and soul to a project, yet no one, not even their family, read their book. For those are the real writers. The ones who can’t go around telling others they are writers, not for their lack of skill or ability, but of fear of rejection from society, as they have nothing to show for their work. The real writer is not one who is given awards for their work, nor recommended to a book club, or even reviewed by a critic, but one that writes as the flame inside them burns with words that cannot be lowered, for the material world cannot and shall not reach the passion inside a man’s soul who wishes to live by that life.
This site has always prided itself on being a place for writers to feel like they belong, for we, too, are writers here. We know your pain with words and how it can be a pain in the ass writing up a novel after a long day of work as a teacher. Or how that poem you started just doesn’t seem to be finished, plus you don’t know how to get it published anyway. We hope to always show this empathy to our fellow writers, for we feel it is a reason you like us.
Let’s get back to the two things a writer needs to write. We already spoke about the physical ability to do it. What is number two?
The second thing a writer needs is the mental awareness to write their work. This sounds obvious and pretty silly for me to even point out, but there are some in this world who are not altogether there, and can’t write, simply because they lack mental well-being. There are many reasons for this, which I won’t go into detail here, but unlike the first option, which a writer can adjust to, as Brooke has shown, a writer without their mind is not a writer at all. You can type with only one hand, but you can’t write with no mind.
Words are thoughts composed in a poetic format for the entertainment and education of readers, and without having a mind that can focus on the words in front of them, a writer is unable to complete their most basic task of recording the actual words. Forget about making a worthwhile line like that of Eliot or Frost. Don’t even dare write rhymes like Seuss. And to contemplate on writing as the Bard is only foolishness. Why? You can’t even think straight or coherently. Although some writers can claim to appear insane, one must be sane enough to put insane thoughts on paper. The real insane writers are not even sane enough to do that.
My example for this is the obvious pick of Edgar Allan Poe. I don’t think he was as crazy as he seemed. Was he weird? Can anyone write the stuff he wrote and claim to be normal? But was he in an institution, locked up, detained, sort of insane? No. Was he crazy, like how some think some students are in school? I mean…. He didn’t shoot up a school. (No one likes to say it, but there are always a few kids in the schools that the other teachers look at each other and think, “I hope that kid doesn’t come in one day and shoot everyone.” By the way, don't do that, if you are a kid reading this. Even though it may appear as if no one is listening, someone will always sit you down and hear you out. Not all the teachers are out to get you, believe it or not)
Some of the readers may even know the line of Poe that goes like this: “I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.” Is that poetic? Absolutely. Does that make all the girls love the guy? You betcha. Is it true? No. Poe was always sane. No man out of his mind can write the level of quality and the sheer amount of Poe. The insane guy would have been done a few pages into a story before they would have to lock him up. Poe just dove into the dark workings of the human experience, which can then be seen as him appearing insane. Meanwhile, he was as sane as anyone else. Weird? Yes. Insane? No.
Maybe writers should be more grateful for the minds they do have rather than nitpicking every line of a poem as if it is a strategy from a classic battle in history. My dude, you got your body, which is not that badly injured, and you have your mind, which is not great but is yours. That is a pretty good thing to have for most people. If you can somehow write a few good lines in the middle of all that, then I guess that is nice too.
I often worry that the young writers are led astray by the fame and success of the more popular ones, and they may be chasing a shadow rather than enjoying the ride. The young writer, who can be anywhere between 20-30, even up to 40, likes a famous author and then feels a certain level of stress to be like them. Do you like Stephen King? You better write as much as him, or you are not as good. Do you like Poe? What are you waiting for? Those words don’t write themselves! Do you like Rowling? You have to make a world as interesting and even larger! If you only write for the end result, then you will only find failure and misery in your life because as much as any of us writers like to love ourselves, the truth is that the world and the success you have been searching for are fleeting. I know that is not what you want to hear, and neither do I. But it is true. So why not enjoy the ride of the words rather than allow them to destroy the love you had for them to begin with?
Maybe you should start looking at what you have instead of what you don’t have. There are a lot of people out there who would be happy to be able to write a book that will be read (or maybe not read) by strangers.
Lighten up, writers, because it can be much worse, much, much worse. After all, it is just a story, right?
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About The Blogger
Greg Luti is an editor and blogger on pensandwords.com. His favorite writers are Robert Frost and Charles Bukowski. He enjoys reading up on history, watching comedies, and playing video games, when he is not writing down a few notes for his next piece. He started this blog out of his love for literature and hopes the reader shares that passion.
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