Writing in the Real World

20 Apr

art of writing

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. ~Anaïs Nin

I wonder what the percentage of lead characters in novels and in movies are writers. I’ll bet it’s one of the more popular professions in the fictional world. Being a writer seems like an easy job. On the screen, they hardly ever show the writer writing. He or she is usually busy receiving the accolades from adoring fans about a piece that is already written and published, or the scene shows the excitement of beginning the quest for information. But they hardly ever show the actual writing. That’s because actually writing is never as pretty as thinking about writing, or getting an idea to write about, or having written. It is the crucial step, though. Thinking about writing does not make one a writer. And one can’t reap the rewards of a well-crafted piece without the writing of it.

Writers usually don’t look their best while writing. They look a little daft and unkempt, truth be told. When I’m writing, I generally haven’t put on makeup or combed my hair. I talk out loud to myself throughout the whole process. And a good portion of the time is spent doing no writing at all, but thinking deeply while performing an inordinate number of facial expressions. I wouldn’t pay to watch that.

Writing seems sexy. It seems interesting. It seems rewarding and challenging and exciting. But that’s the fictional version. Writing in the real world is often tedious and under appreciated and poorly compensated. Writing in the real world takes way more time than most people would imagine. Most of real writing is editing. Most real writing is thrown out in a quest to make it better. Most real writing is pretty lonely work.

But having written, and written well…

That’s another story.

18 Responses to “Writing in the Real World”

  1. Samantha April 24, 2013 at 6:48 am #

    This is so true! I think I might blog about this a bit myself since my writing process is pretty much consisting of awkward poses, a lot of backspaces and the continuous scratching of my head 😛 Maby people seem to think it’s not really that it just comes natural, while it usually goes away more naturally than in comes 90% of the time xD Thanks for a great post!

  2. Lorna's Voice April 20, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    So true. But I guess romanticizing most obs is the business of Hollywood, eh? How often does any job get accurately portrayed?

    I just went to a reading by a local “poet-laureat” at our local university. He has written and published 27 books. His work was very good. I couldn’t help but notice how people in the audience, especially some very picky English professors were completely smitten by him.

    This goes to you closing lines. Those writers who make it big are put on a pretty high pedestal. But they, too, have unkempt hair and sloppy clothing when doing their work–sometimes when reading their work! 😉

    • lindaricke April 20, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

      I guess it’s part of their persona. They’re so special they don’t have to follow everyone else’s rules of cleaning themselves up for other people?

    • Lorna's Voice April 22, 2013 at 3:54 am #

      It’s all a fantasy world. 😉

  3. Junior April 20, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    Very nice insight to the writer’s process, which as you laid out, isn’t just about actual writing, it’s about the entire process. Thinking before writing, which would look boring being shown on a movie, is the biggest part to me. And I agree with you about not getting in our ‘Sunday Best’ when we write. I never wear my three-piece suit at my writing spot. It just would t feel write. 😉

  4. sjpowers1 April 20, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    And have you ever noticed that people with actual professions – like lawyers, clergy, doctors and others – want to be writers? Why? Aren’t these professions “it”?? (I think I may have to blog about this!)
    I found it interesting you talk out loud when you write. I personally write silently, but am so focused that the house could be burning down and I wouldn’t notice. 🙂

    • lindaricke April 20, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

      I think I’ll try dabbling in doctoring today…Good point. I read my writing out loud to hear it. I studied speech in college, and I find more mistakes and more awkward sentences when reading them aloud. If my writing doesn’t make sense out loud, it won’t make sense when read silently.
      I love the focus of being so into what I’m writing that the rest of the world disappears.

    • sjpowers1 April 21, 2013 at 3:05 am #

      I agree about reading aloud but only do it when I’m done writing, I can understand if you’re ear-minded why you’d do it as you write. As they whatever works….!

  5. The Writing Corp Admin April 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    As a writer of both for others and for myself, I must agree to the words on this post. Thank you Linda. Amazing entry!

  6. Frank April 20, 2013 at 6:29 am #

    I like the film Adaptation which has Nicholas Cage playing the film’s own screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and also his fictional brother Donald. Charlie is struggling against writer’s block in an attempt to adapt The Orchid Thief, while his brother knocks off a successful cliché-ridden script.

    Another book/film where the focus is on writing is, of course, Misery.

    • lindaricke April 20, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

      Doesn’t it just kill you when you know you’re good at something and you are struggling, and then someone who knows nothing about the subject tries out your craft and is instantly more successful? Then, when they comment that that wasn’t so hard … Ooohh!

    • Frank April 20, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

      And – sometimes – when you read what they wrote, you’re baffled that anyone likes it…

    • lindaricke April 20, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

      Yeah. Just because it’s published, doesn’t make it good.
      Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

  7. Rowan April 20, 2013 at 6:13 am #

    Very true. I quite like the way you wrote this. An interesting look at the life of the writer – by showing something that isn’t often seen in movies, you illustrated your point perfectly.

  8. hilarycustancegreen April 20, 2013 at 5:52 am #

    Having just spent two days working over the opening chapters of a much revised novel this piece hits home. I am looking forward to getting back to work on my new novel, romanticising the feeling of creative freshness that I will enjoy, but knowing full well that the reality will not be quite so sweet. Still, I may clear my desk while I prepare my mind.

    • lindaricke April 20, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

      How exciting to have reached the stage of rewriting on your chapters! Congratulations on practicing actual writing.

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