Let's Get Some Writer's Optimism
Writers complain about everything under the sun. They can’t think of any ideas, the story doesn’t develop the way they want, it’s too hard to revise, they can’t get published, their book doesn’t sell. People call writing a hell, an uphill battle where every step along the way is agonizing.
I ask them: then why do you do it?
They always answer proudly. “Because I must.”
I ask them why they “must.” It’s not like they have a boss who will fire them if they stop writing. It’s not like their family will disown them. God didn’t forbid you from ceasing to write and you won't go to hell. There is no greater force that compels a person to write.
“It’s in the core of my being,” writers insist. “I can’t stop writing any more than I can stop breathing, no matter how hard it gets.”
As far as I know, only people with obsessive-compulsive disorder must do things whether they want to or not.
You can put down your pen right now. You can stare at an empty page, and you don’t have to fill it.
But you will fill that page. You will pick up that pen, and you will use it to create something beautiful.
Why? Because you have to? Or maybe – and I’m just throwing this idea out there – because you want to?
Is there a chance you actually enjoy writing?
If writing is the core of your being, doing it will be the greatest of pleasures. Sometimes when I get going, I feel intoxicated by the power of what I write and how much it resonates with me. I want to throw my arms in the air and shout to the world, “I am a writer! I love every minute of it, and I don’t regret a single word!”
Please, please don’t get discouraged if writing causes you pain or if it seems like more of a wicked compulsion than the joy I just described. I’m not saying you have an inadequate core. The fact of the matter is, we’ve heard artists act like martyrs for so long that it can become ingrained in us. Tapping into optimism might be difficult, at first. But it’s there for the taking.
Think of it like forbidden fruit. You see juicy, red, luscious fruit hanging from a tree. This is the ability to feel nothing but pure happiness that you have the gift of writing. This is the satisfaction of knowing that what you write is a part of you, is infinitely meaningful to you, and even when it’s hard, you can enjoy every step of the process. You can even enjoy revising.
You want to eat this fruit, but other writers are watching you. They starve themselves because they pretend like writing isn’t the most wonderful thing in the world. They self-inflict misery to make themselves feel important and to give their life meaning.
As you reach out your hand for the fruit, what do you see the writers saying to you? What are the words that go through your mind when you dare to be optimistic about what you write?
These are some of the things I hear: “If you aren’t challenged to the point of pain, you’re not working hard enough. You’re just fiddling with pretty words. We are better than you because we actually challenge ourselves. Real writers have a difficult time. Real writers suffer.”
Pluck that fruit. Take a huge bite – as much as will fit in your mouth. Feel the juice run down your chin. You can be a happy writer.