What it takes to write


Typebars in a 1920s typewriter

Typebars in a 1920s typewriter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a self-conscious and somewhat arrogant moment.

I was home alone. My boyfriend was at work. The phone was unplugged. (Yes, I’m old enough to have had a phone that plugged into the wall.) We lived in a quiet area of the neighborhood, so even passing traffic was muffled to a whisper.

It was time to write.

I dimmed the lights. Poured a glass of wine. Toted my Underwood manual typewriter upstairs and placed it on my kitchen table. (I’m not so old that typewriters were manual, but I felt like real writers used manual machines.) I scrolled a sheet of blank white paper into the platen, sipped a bit of the red wine, and then leaned back in my chair to wait for inspiration to strike.

I was drunk within a half-an-hour. There was nothing on the page. The bottle was empty. I was confused.

I’d done everything I could think of to get the creative juices running, and none of it had worked.

It took me years to learn anything from that experience, because I didn’t dwell on it. Not the way I should have. Instead, I kept trying to put myself into “writing situations,” where the words would flow naturally, and I spit out novels with a fast rattling of my fingers on the keys. I grew up thinking that writers had the life – just tap out the words, and people would pay you for them.

That never worked.

Now I know why.

Writing is hard.

That’s it. Only a blessed (or cursed) few in this world can spew out their thoughts and have them string together as valuable sentences and paragraphs. The late, great (misogynistic) Issac Asimov comes to mind. But even he had his challenges.

Now I know that there are no “writing situations.” If I want to write, I just have to sit down and do it. I can tap the words into my phone, a typewriter, or a computer’s keyboard. Writing isn’t about the things, nor the atmosphere.

It’s about you.

And me.

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2 responses to “What it takes to write

  1. Pingback: Writing can be Easy | Cherry Pickens

  2. Pingback: When You Can’t Think of Something to Write | The Collaborative Writer

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