A quick scan of the stories created by-writers, for-writers suggests that most share some common themes.
There are plenty that share how the author made a heap of money in their first month from their writing. They offer 5, 6 or 7 easy steps for overcoming the challenges that most of us face and battle daily. They helpfully advocate that readers should copy their example and replicate their successes.
Then there are those that take on one or more of the widely acknowledged challenges of writing and provide an antidote to them.
How to beat a creative block? How to overcome rejection? How to keep going when you want to quit?
The challenges are familiar and alas, so too are many of the proposed solutions.
It strikes me that stories describing the good bits about writing seem a little thin on the ground. I’m not talking about the tales of ‘How I made $5,678 in my first month on Medium’. Rather it’s stories about the simple pleasures and daily joys of being a writer who writes that seem to be lacking.
Without wanting to be too Pollyanna-ish about it, I want to restore the balance a little.
Goodness knows that over the years I’ve done my share of whining and complaining about the trials and torments of writing to anyone who would listen. I’ve vented my spleen in online writer’s groups and documented my struggles and grievances in numerous stories.
This piece will be different. Maybe it’s because I’m having a positive run of creative inspiration. Perhaps I’ve just resolved to change my ways. But it seems to me that there are many wonderful experiences that writing brings to my life.
Maybe you’ve experienced some of the same, or have other things you can add into the mix?
Perhaps your inspiration is flagging and my list will help to remind you why you’re still here, showing up and putting in the work.
And so, channeling Julie Andrews in ‘The Sound of Music’ — these are a few of my favourite things.
When you remember to feel blessed for being able to do something with your time that’s creative, indulgent and self-directed
Whether you write for a living or as a side-project alongside your job, it’s a luxurious position to be in, to be a writer. To have the freedom to gather your thoughts and to share them with the world, potentially making an impact upon others. To research topics that interest you and then consolidate that learning and share it with others. To enjoy the freedom to determine what your efforts, attention, and time are directed towards.
Not everyone enjoys such freedoms and it’s easy to forget that. Not everyone has the skills or aptitude for writing either.
When you’re so engrossed in getting an idea down that you forget to eat or drink
Such was the case when I started thinking about this story yesterday. As soon as the idea struck me I felt an urgency to sketch the ideas out in case I’d forgotten them by the time I finished my salad.
Many are the times when I’ve made myself a coffee or a meal to enjoy while working, only to notice it sat on the desk many hours later — stone cold and long forgotten. I love food, but when I can barely tear myself away from what I’m writing, I love that even more.
When you’re desperate to go to the toilet but can’t tear yourself away from the next sentence, paragraph or idea.
Along the same lines as forgetting to eat.
I often finish a piece having edited and submitted it — only to realise that I’m desperate to pay a visit to the bathroom. Such urges are easy to contain and put to the back of mind when you’re in flow, and within spitting distance of getting another of your stories out into the wider world.
It’s another reminder of how engrossed we can get in our creative work to the exclusion of almost all other needs and desires.
When you fire up a new document while mid-flow so you can sketch out another idea that your existing draft has spawned.
One of my former personal trainers used the adage that ‘energy breeds energy’, and the same often applies in writing. One good idea, thoroughly explored and meticulously-dissected often spawns the next. The two might be completely unrelated in subject-matter but it’s the act of being in that creative state with the relevant brain circuitry firing on all cylinders that can prompt the new ideas to flow freely.
It may feel risky to stop working on one piece to sketch out the next, lest the idea is forgotten. But it’s a necessary evil I guess — an abundance of ideas being the writer’s equivalent of first world problems!
When you are desperate not to stop writing for fear of breaking your flow-state
Life continues around us, even when we’re in the midst of creative flow. The delivery driver knocking at the door. The kids who need home-school supervision. A phone call from work that can’t be ignored.
Each disturbance is evaluated for urgency and put off for as long as possible so we can preserve that precious state of inspiration.
On the occasions when we’re left to our own devices, a few hours or even a day spent in creative flow will reinforce our desire to succeed as a writer and remind us how good at it we can be when we get going.
When you can hear your kids or partner shouting with increasing exasperation as they try and summon you from your work.
They clearly just don’t understand how engrossed we are. We tell ourselves we’ll stop once we’ve finished this last thought. Then it becomes the paragraph, and before we know it we’re trying to finish the whole piece before they lose their patience and come to drag us away from our desks.
Deep down I’m sure they understand and can sense the joy and fulfilment that’s making us oblivious to their demands and the passing of minute after minute — at least that’s what I tell myself.
When you wake long before your alarm and your first thought is to check on your latest story
Certainly we can’t shape how our work is received and whether it’s appreciated, but few of us can resist checking to see if our creation has connected with those we published it for.
Stats can be compelling, the root of an obsession even. But it feels good when something we thought was a work of genius finds at least a couple of others who seem to agree.
When you get an email or even a simple comment from a reader who has been helped by your writing or is moved enough to let you know it with a simple ‘thanks’.
It really needs no further explanation.
Writing is no picnic — for all of the positives that most of us experience at least occasionally, there are many negatives that grind us down when times are tough.
Procrastination takes over from inspiration.
Instead of being distracted from eating by our writing, we end up distracting ourselves from writing by eating, doing chores, and doing anything possible to delay getting started.
But when we experience the good times, we remember why we got started with writing in the first place. Long may it continue.
What else do you love about writing?