Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Writers Write... And Not Always Well

After an hour or so ago making in this post the comment "my blog is about writing", it got me to thinking about the idea of writing words and how it's done.

I know I like both reading and writing words organized well on a page and I've certainly written about that... with these posts on the "Permanence of Words" and "How We Value and Entertain Ourselves" as examples.

What I don't think I've written as much about is the process of getting said words on a page organized well. S'hard stuff... this writing thing. Well, not always hard, but those fits of inspiration are oft mere exceptions to the rule of writing as a slog.

I suppose that's ok, though. There's contemporary writers that do great work (and I've written about them many times including in this post), but I'd be willing to bet dollars for doughnuts that these writer types as well as the "all-time greats" like Fitzgerald, Rand, Twain and Lee (Harper, that is) often weren't writing great prose when they wrote, but just kept at it. Basically following the principle of "if you keep doing something long enough, you're eventually going to get good at it" (labeled the "10,000 hour rule" by Malcolm Gladwell in "Outliers").

Therein lies the trick me thinks (and this is about writing, but one could apply the idea below elsewhere)...

When you're inspired, motivated and creative... you write, you do great work. However, when you're not inspired, not motivated and not creative... you still write, you do work. Maybe through the act of the work it'll become great, but even if it doesn't, you're still being a writer, dammit, and by acting as one, you'll eventually become an even better writer.