Friday, December 11, 2009

201 - Being forced to write

I watch a television series called Californication. For those of you who don't already know what it's about, the episodes revolve around the personal and professional troubles of a published author. In the show's pilot, the writer is being pressured by his agent to get his next piece of work ready for publishing soon, but the writer finds himself struggling to write a new book. So he makes an attempt. Anything he can put on a piece of paper, he writes it down. Then he throws it away because the idea sucks. He tries again, and then dumps it in the trash once more. He has no choice but to push himself, and trying to push your way through writer's block is what really grinds my gears today.

Writing, whether it be a book, an essay, a blog, a newspaper article, or even a text message, requires many different things - it starts with having an initial idea, and then having the vast pool of words from which you can select the ones that perfectly convey that thought. It needs a quick mind, prolific with ideas, to help you develop your craft, and an easily accessible, diverse group of trustworthy people you can rely on, to give you reliable feedback in case it's needed. Then, a critical eye is good to have after you've finished, to help you go through your work objectively and edit. Maybe this paragraph needs an image to go with it. Maybe I should use the rule of three. Perhaps these words should be italicized, this word should be boldfaced, and this sentence should end with a question mark to make it self-referentially humorous?

All in all, writing sure as Hell takes a lot of hard work. Especially if you want to write humorously, with distinctive flair and unique style, without making any mistakes in spelling, punctuating or grammaticizing. All of this hard work also needs time, time that could've been spent on homework, school work, office work, house work, working out, going out, catching up with an old friend, seeing a movie with the family, learning a new recipe, checking out a new restaurant, or going grocery-shopping at the supermarket. 

Writing takes a lot more than just creative power. It requires inner and superficial knowledge, some honesty, plus experience, experience from which you can draw if you are aiming to write from the heart. Writing also requires a certain level of strategy and socio-cultural awareness, to entertain, captivate and attract readers, and also to avoid angering and/or insulting them too. It requires pride and belief in what you're writing, you need to be courageous and unafraid of being openly or discreetly condemned. It's a demanding hobby/profession.

But at its roots, it is about creative power. Some people can just do it at any point of any day. Some people cannot. Most people.

I am still in school, and I am very familiar with the feeling of having to write about a certain topic before a certain date. Police officers don't know how to bulk up their reports. Businesspeople are finding themselves with blank Powerpoint presentations. Chefs can't put their finger on the perfect ingredient. Teachers regurgitate the same student evaluation thirty times. And bloggers don't know what to say.

Yet it's required of all of us to pull something out of our ass at some point. I have this to talk about now, but what am I going to do next time? Just pass on writing for a few more days?

Tell me, do you hate it too?


Marcy said...

I hate being forced to write a paper on a topic that I'm just not in to. If I'm not "feeling" the subject matter, then it will certainly show in my writing. This type of thing happens a lot in school.

gaf85 said...

Hello Michael, As always you offer an interesting perspective. My job requires constant writing, reports of therapy sessions with clients. Over time I have developed a certain style which although precise and succinct is conversational.I think I tend to write how I talk.

Shimmer said...

i think every blogger can relate to having writing blocks. cretivity is pretty tough to be forced out of someone, it just comes at its own pace and its intended time.. how carefree! :P

Keren David said...

Hi Michael, great post. I just gave you an award on my blog.