• Do You Like to Write?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 42 comments
    Mar
    2

    Critique Group

    Discussion questions: Share your thought on the following quote, attributed often to Dorothy Parker, as well as Frank Norris, George R.R. Martin, and loads of others: “I hate writing, but I love having written.” How do you feel about the act of writing? Is it torture or is it a pleasure? Or does your answer change with every session?

     

    I know a lot of writers who say they don’t like to write. “I write only because I have to,” they’ll say, as if they’re compelled to undergo this activity against their will only because otherwise they might burst. Or, “My least favorite part of being a writer is the act of writing.”

    “I hate writing, but I love having written” is a quote that’s been attributed to many writers, including Dorothy Parker and Frank Norris. In other words, the process itself is painful, but the product–or, at least, the sense of accomplishment at creating the product–is worth it.

    Others take it to a visceral extreme; writers like Hemingway and Gene Fowler are cited as saying things along the lines of “Writing is easy; just open a vein and bleed” or “… just stare at a piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”

    I almost hesitate to say this, but… I love to write. I f*c*ing love it.

    Look, I can understand not enjoying it. It’s not easy. If writing were easy, I’d do it all the time. Instead I have only a couple or a few writing sessions per week. But when I do sit down to do it, I love it. Even when the going is slow and the words just aren’t coming. I enjoy the act of creating.

    I guess I should consider myself among the lucky.

    I do also enjoy the “having written” part. Not necessarily the product itself, because that’s hit and miss (and miss, and miss), but I love the existence of the product. The fact that something now exists that didn’t exist before, and the fact that I’m responsible for its existence.

    But to me the process is more enjoyable and more fulfilling than the product.

    I’ll put it this way: If I had the choice between waking up one morning with a full novel but without the experience of having produced it or experiencing the process of writing a novel but having those pages disappear forever, I’d choose the latter.

    Is that crazy? Maybe. I don’t know. It’s kind of a weird hypothetical.

    But which would you choose? I guess the question is, which do you prefer, process or product?

    And how do you feel about that Parker/Norris quote, “I hate writing, but I love having written?”

    Share your thoughts in the comments below.

     

    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2019 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

     

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    Hans De Léo

    Do I like to write? Yes, and no. When it comes to putting in the action and dialogue, I’m there. I have a good idea of the scene and where I’m going with the story both locally and how the story will end. The action and dialogue just seem to flow out of me. Those are the times when writing is therapeutic for me. What I find difficult is to step back, put in a few descriptions, Add in a detail or two, and show the emotion of the characters in a scene. Those are things I’m still learning how… Read more »

    Dan Hays

    I fall on the “love to write” end of the spectrum, David. For me it’s a transcendent experience. Once I settle into the flow, I’m amazed at the words I generate.

    But I think that enjoyment is compounded because I broke through a writer’s block which had plagued me for years. So I’m very aware of the precious gift I have when I can write. :)

    Dan Hays

    Yes, David, having the block was really painful, but my appreciation for the ability to write is now greatly enhanced! Great topic!

    David M Inverso

    Process. It’s the STARTING I hate. Sitting down to write is like hurling one of those super bouncy balls and waiting for it to stop ricochetting off the walls, floor and ceiling to land on the keyboard. Once I actually start writing, I get absorbed in it.

    As for the “I hate writing, but love having written” angle, I’ll quote inept boss Michael Scott from The Office, “I’ll take these ideas in, digest them and see what comes out the other end.” ;-)

    Jill-Ayn Martin

    My favorite part is planning the book, but once I start writing I love it! I feel more alive when I’m writing. I put myself behind my protagonist’s eyes and feel everything happening to her. I can live adventures through my characters–things that I would never be able to do without them.

    kay

    I love it, the only thing nearly as good is reading an interesting or exciting story. I don’t like all the things associated with the writing product, publishing what you write, etc. Had the same issue when doing visual art.

    Jerry Schwartz

    I’m in a different place than most of you, in that I don’t try to publish my work. I belong to a writer’s group, and they get to read and critique chunks of my stuff, but that’s about it. Not that I wouldn’t be pleased if something got published, but I’m too lazy to make the effort.

    That makes it very easy for me to answer the question. If I didn’t like the act of writing, I wouldn’t do it.

    Jerry Schwartz

    Here’s how it shakes out: I would love for people to read (and praise) my work; but I find the actual mechanics of self-publishing daunting. I did have a friend who was in the business, and he offered to help me, but he got distracted and fell off the face of the earth. My niece got some things published, both Kindle and paperback, but they were novel length. None of my stuff is that long, and each piece is unrelated to the others. Submitting chunks to a writers group is only a step up from passing out copies in a… Read more »

    Jerry Schwartz

    To be honest, it never occurred to me to submit to a magazine.

    Jerry Schwartz

    It’s intriguing. I confess that I’ve never read such a magazine. Given the slightest opportunity, my sister-in-law would fill both my ears and the trunk of my car with relevant material. I’ll have to talk to her when I have a semester to spare.

    Barbara Mealer

    I LOVE to write. The process of creating something others enjoy is fun. I don’t mind getting it all set up then writing the darn thing, then comes editing…not my favorite thing, but I’m learning how to do it do it well and hopefully make my books better than before. I fact, I’m working on writing two books. One is for a friend where she hopes it will point out the perils of infant head injuries but they accidental or not. The other is an idea which came to me about a girl in the early 1900s. Okay, enough wasting… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    I’m not fond of that 90%. Part is not being sure of what to do to make it better, but I’m working on that. A claas in deep editing plus a couple of boks by experts and i’m getting there. I can say that once i began to block out my books they are a lot better in first draft with less to change or dump. I’ve also gotten on friendly terms with Scrivener which is making the editing a lot easier.

    Barbara Mealer

    It is how to revise after you have your first draft completed. It is a great idea for a course which starts with the basics of writing into how to edit that mess of a first draft. This is a 12 week course in 2 hour bits. She uses a lot of really good resources (many of which I have) along with some things I’ve not come across (like the motif and iterations of them) I’m taking it for two reasons. One is to learn about editing my first draft, and the other is being with other writers in this… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    The group is in Flagstaff, 56 miles from where I live. I’m going simply because the classes are on Saturday and I can arrange my private duty work around the classes. They are a fun group and I’ll probably stay in contact with a few after the class.

    E

    I like writing. I love writing when it’s my idea to write. I hate writing when I am interrupted, and that seems to be every six minutes. The best feeling in the world is writing the last word in a piece I’m happy with; the worst feeling is being in the zone, the ideas flowing so fast I can barely get them down, and someone demands to be shown where their underwear is. I swear to you, fingers up in the Scout salute, that I was just interrupted (by something else) while writing this. Happy-writing is like mowing the lawn… Read more »

    Dana S. Frank

    Hi, everyone. I love writing, but I get the flip side. I do various kinds of writing. I write in my journal, I write random pages, a la The Artist’s Way, I write fiction, and I write for my living, which varies but includes continuing medical education courses, websites, and books. All the time when I’m doing it, I feel like myself. I feel confident and correct. That is not bragging or anything, because I came to the realization of myself as a writer late in my life. It’s more like I’m thankful, you know? I’m thankful that I zeroed… Read more »

    stephen Glick

    Ilove writing the first draft . The joy quickly goes bye, bye when the re-writing begins.

    Jerry Schwartz

    I’m an edit-as-you-go guy so for me the two are inseparable. In a sense I never stop writing or editing a piece.

    david lemke

    This is my second attempt at posting.
    I love/hate writing. Sometimes I avoid it but once the keys start getting pressed it gets better, intoxicating, a drug!
    Something weird has been happening. I joined a site last year called Quora
    You ask and answer questions. I’ve written many 100s with 300,000 reads so far. Writing these are easier then falling down. Plus I get a few upvote sometimes within minutes.

    david william lemke

    Though I didn’t mean to I’ve answered your question; I check my emails, surf, Facebook, play Spider and write stuff for Quora. When I’m not sitting in my Throne of Swords” I may do dishes and even vacuum to avoid writing.

    Katherine

    I agree with Dorothy. Writing gives me such severe anxiety I avoid it all together.

    Katherine

    In the early 00’s I got a certificate in creative writing. I haven’t done anything with it. I have about 10 pages of a story. I put it away. Years later I take it out and restart. Then I put it away again and so on. Don’t know where the anxiety comes from.

    Katherine

    Just thinking about it causes anxiety.
    I think I put good writing on such a high pedestal.




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