Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Are You Driven To Write?

Many writers say they are driven to write, that they have to write, that they would write even if they never sold a thing.

I'm not among those writers.

Sometimes, other writers are perplexed. "How do you stand the loneliness then?" "How can you motivate yourself to do the hard work if you don't have to write?"

Frankly, I like solitude. I enjoy writing. I love when I'm on a roll, feeling the words spill out faster than I can think. I love the tension of try to finding the perfect word, that one with the precise meaning I want that also contains the right number of syllables to yield a smooth sentence and that has a first letter that echoes elsewhere in a word nearby. I love the research and learning things I didn't know before. I love taking a crappy first draft and shaping it, draft by draft, revision by revision, into something sharper, shorter, and more exciting.

Sure, sometimes writing is hard, but life's much harder. Writing distracts me from the difficulties of real life.

More important, though, is that I am driven ... driven to create. I've tried many many creative endeavors since childhood, and if I had been good enough at one of them, I might now be a professional musician or a professional herb gardener or a professional quilter or a professional photographer or....

Unfortunately, the only creative activity I had a real talent for was writing. So I became a writer. The drive to create is almost as good a motivator to write as a drive to write. I say "almost" because although I've given up most of my hobbies to create more time to write, I still sometimes find myself out in the garden plucking weeds or photographing my plants or their pests when I should be writing. I suspect those who are driven to write don't get diverted by opportunities to do something else creative.

How about you? Are you driven to write? If not, why did you become a writer?

I'll be blogging again on March 21. Hope to see you again then.

—Shauna Roberts


Charles Gramlich said...

I think I felt more driven to write when I was younger. Now it is not so much a feeling of being driven, as it is a desire to explore certain things, to experience certain things, to discover things through the process of writing. It is a challenge that I like to pit myself against.

William Doonan said...

Honestly, I feel like I'm falling behind if I don't write. The problem is that the writing satisfies me even if it's drivel. It's the shaping of the drivel that's the hard part - the slow replacement of non-essential letters and words, the addition of verbs, putting in the punctuation and plot, and the characterization. That's the hard part.

William Doonan

Shauna Roberts said...

CHARLES, that's interesting. I too like the challenge of trying to explore some issue or idea and seeing whether I can do it.

WILLIAM, there is something very satisfying about having written XXXX words or XX pages, even if they need a lot of work. It's such a concrete accomplishment. I also very much enjoy the shaping and editing part that comes afterward, but there's less satisfaction in those parts because I can't measure progress in any firm way.

G said...

I originally was driven to write due to a serious personal crisis back in the fall of 2005.

Once I was able to work the one trunk novel out of my system, I found that I still wanted to write and become published, and I've been toiling away ever since.

However, once I decided to become serious about being a published somebody, I quickly found the obsession from '06 again and latched onto an idea for a novel in '10.

Two years later, the end result of that obsession was that I finally landed a publisher for my novel in the spring of '12.

Shauna Roberts said...

Congratulations, G. That's wonderful news. And you illustrate an interesting point—that these obsessions sometimes come and go, often influenced by one's personal life.