August 8th, 2006

with book as with child

A metaphor for writing

Thanks to kalquessa, whose frankly expressed frustration with writing took me back and made me think about the act of writing in a new way.

Being a writer is like being a professional athlete.

A lot of my time is spent working hard, on plot outlines, on character issues, on the use of words--learning new ones, creating new patterns with old ones, unlearning bad habits. Sometimes it's a struggle, painful, like pushing those weights upwards for one...more...rep, even though your muscles are screaming for rest.

But those struggles, those rough drafts, create the foundation for the finer work.

All the time spent improving strength, coordination, and creativity in the use of my body comes to fulfillment in a game or championship match.

I have to push through the pain, the frustration, the moments when I'm sure I'll never make it and question why I would even try, if I want to reach the moments when I know I've gotten the exact phrase I wanted, when I hear from a reader that I touched them, when I see the entire form come together in one cohesive whole.

One more note: work long and hard enough, and your body starts looking forward to the endorphin release that comes with excercise. I have found the same to be true of writing. Yes, it's hard to sit down and do it, but I feel so much better if I manage it.

"Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing. Ink is the great cure for all human ills, as I have found out long ago."
--C.S. Lewis