• Writing is Like …

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN News & Events     Comments 1 comment

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    We’re always curious to know what writers are searching for online, and one way of getting there is to type “Writing is like” into Google and seeing what auto-fills. I do it once for every letter, and some of the results are… well, odd.

    Writing is like utensil?

    Writing is like Xmas bad?

    Writing is like therapy?

    Well, that last one makes sense. We all need it.



    Here you go, A to Z:

    Writing is like…


    A puzzle:

    The first link is to a quote ostensibly from Stephanie Zimbalist (of Remington Steele fame—way to stay current, Googlers!) that reads “Writing is mentally stimulating; it’s like a puzzle that makes you think all the time.”

    You know what else is mentally stimulating? Editing. Editing is like a puzzle that makes you think all the time. And if Stephanie Zimbalist had hired WriteByNight for a line edit, we might have suggested:

    “Writing is mentally stimulating.”

    That’s all you need! The rest is gobbledygook.



    Ah, Tortured Writer Syndrome. It’s Hemingway who has been most often accused (falsely, probably) of saying, “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.” Then we’ve got ol’ Gene Fowler, who said, “Writing is easy; all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.”

    Good thing these violent gentlemen weren’t writing on laptops.



    Except with cooking you want to eat the results. Unless you’re a horseshit cook. Whereas if you eat the results of writing, you’ve either developed what’s called xylophagia (xylo = wood, phagia = eating of a specified substance), a form of pica, or you’ve eaten your computer and should be on your way to a hospital, where you might share a room with Hemingway and Gene Fowler.


    Driving at night:

    This one has its roots in an E.L. Doctorow quote: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”



    “Writing is like easy” is Valspeak, I think. “Writing is, like, [rising inflection] easy?” It’s fun to picture Hemingway speaking that way: “Writing is, like, easy? You just totally open up a vein and like bleed all over everything.”


    Flying in dreams

    The poetry of this masks the fact that it’s nonsense.


    Giving birth

    “Because my stories are my babies!”



    In that history repeats itself, and writers repeat other writers. Looking at you, Jonah Lehrer. Hi, Jayson Blair. Where ya been, Kaavya Viswanathan? Hanging out with Shia LaBeouf?



    More Valley. “Writing is, like, important? It’s like, without writing, we wouldn’t have as many books and things?”


    Jenny Eather

    So by extension, Jenny Eather is like bleeding while giving birth while driving at night in the fog. You know, easy and important. Like cooking. Jenny Eather is like history, really. A history puzzle.



    The search results go to Stephen King’s On Writing, among our favorite craft books.



    Yup, writing and life, totally interchangeable.

    The Beatles knew this: “A Day in the Writing”; “Got to Get You Into My Writing”; “Paperback Lifer”; “In My Writing.” As John Lennon wrote, “Writing is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”



    “Writing is like metaphor” is a simile. A terrible, terrible simile.



    Unless it’s fiction. Or poetry. In which case, writing is like fiction. Or poetry. Or Jenny Eather.


    The life of a glacier

    This is the auto-fill for O, naturally. Writing is like the life of a glacier: Shortening at an alarming rate, with global implications.



    I’d love to hear Iceberg Slim’s response to this one.



    Will this post show up in a search for “writing is like quotes”? Meta meta meta!



    Except running is good exercise, and writing, unless complemented by exercise, leads to a jiggly ass.



    Revising is like sculpting, for sure. But starting with a blank page seems like the opposite of sculpting. Still, I like it.



    Ever try to charge $350 an hour for writing?



    Writing is like butter knife you use to open your vein. Writing is like ladle you use to scoop out yours guts. Writing is like cheese grater you run across your brain. Writing is like tongs you pull your heart out with.


    Verbal communication

    I didn’t know it was Opposite Day. Which means it isn’t Opposite Day? I’m so confused. No I’m not.





    Xmas bad

    Remember that year you asked Santa for a bike and then in your stocking there was a printout of a bike with a note that read “Someday you’ll have a bike and it will look like the one in this picture”? That’s what writing is like.


    Your skin bad

    Well, duh. Blood on your forehead, open veins. Burns from all that cooking and utensil use. Not to mention all the prostitution and, worse, the running. Of course writing is like your skin bad!


    Zigzag journey

    Yes, dear friends, writing is like zigzag journey. And now that ours has come to a close, I invite you to have some fun with your own writing- or reading-related Google auto-fill. Let us know if you stumble across any interesting results.


    david blog


    WriteByNight writing coach and 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.


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    Writing is like slithering feeling your way through the underbrush and across hot sand exposed to the elements. Its like writheing on splinters and broken glass across rocks and through deep black mud trying to reach a safer place. Its like Grendel’s mother coming to get you, the mother of all your fears waiting just outside

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