Writers spend a lot of time inside the depths of their own heads. I’m a writer, I know we can’t help it. No matter the size of our office, it is the inside of our mind where the majority of our work is done. Whether writing great copy or doodling with our own fiction, we are often left to our own devices, spoiled on solitude and self management.
Though every writer is indeed an individual, I suggest there are at least 6 secrets every writer shares.
1) We fall behind on our deadlines or word count due to nothing but our own faulty management and then feel the looming pressure to neatly knot the loose ends. We recognize what must be done and set aside the time we need to draw straight lines through the length of our list. We have our agenda laid out and prioritized by importance. We’re ready to put a pillow over the face of our day and smother inefficiency, only to spend the majority of our early minutes web surfing, flitting around on Twitter and bouncing from email to email, finally realizing with just two hours to spare that a days worth of work must still be done.
2) Whenever we learn of some horrible calamity, there is a part of us, even if only a whisper, that starts immediately trying to twist the tragedy into compelling copy. Earthquake, fire, flood; missing persons, stolen money, viral epidemic… it matters not. “That’s a great story!” worms its way into our wandering thoughts. Sure, most of us might even feel guilty, but the whisper is wondering how to add depth to the disaster.
3) We all feel something when we face the bleached sheet of a blank page. Trembling fear or a tinge of excitement, conquering nothing by masking it with something is a battle to be sure, and no warrior enters the fray without feeling. For me, nothing is more difficult than that first sentence, the white space mocking me before I can mar it with the machinations of my mind and drop my thoughts like footprints in the snow. For a writer, the blank page is both canvas and altar, to cover and praise in equal measure.
4) Occasionally, the ivy green gremlin of jealousy will come to nibble at our ear when we encounter prose we fear we might not ever be able to match. When fortune is smiling however, this monster meets a metamorphosis, changing it into our biggest champion, cheering us forward and telling us that we too can greet words with out glory.
5) Sometimes we feel sullen when reaching the sunset of our work. This is especially true for online writers and bloggers. We pour our hearts into our posts, press publish, then watch as our words slowly whither on the WordPress vine until they finally perish to nothing over the short course of a few brief days.
6) Once in a blue moon, we part from our paper or screen feeling like a mighty conqueror. These are the times when our fingers are on fire, seeming to meld with our minds for the unrivaled nirvana of perfectly articulated prose. Writers weave worlds from nothing, creating chronicles, creatures, landscapes and legends. Whether writing a simple blog post or an epic saga, we are lord and master of the worlds in our mind. In these rare moments, we can feel it in our marrow and know beyond doubt we have created something worth repetition and remembrance.
Many of us are creatures of habit, our rituals and routines giving shape to our method. Perhaps because so many of our moments our birthed in isolation, they feel like treasures to be buried. Maybe it’s just me, but I imagine I’m not the only one.
The Collective Inkwell Community Question: Do these six secrets ring true for you? Are there any others you’d like to confess?