Why The Hell Aren’t You Home Writing

Word has it that a Nobel Laureate told a group of writers standing beside a bar that, within a radius of one mile, there were at least a hundred better writers than any of us; the difference between us as established writers and them as unsung geniuses was only that we had the discipline to write down our great books while the failures merely talked about writing.

Not long after I had moved to Montreal, at a social gathering, my friend introduced me to this great woman, a university lecturer and writer who reminded me so much of Simone De Beauvoir. A few months later, I met her again. She asked me if I was writing. When I told her I was trying, she asked, “When is the last time you sat down and wrote?” I hesitated.

“I read your book,” she continued. “It’s a pity to waste what you have. Talent is not a rare commodity, you know. Discipline is. You must write.”

I was surprised. At that time I was busy teaching and trying to find my ground in a new city, in a new country. I hadn’t started my blog yet. I had started writing a second novel prior to moving, but to be honest I wasn’t doing anything about it. I wasn’t writing much if at all, at least not on a regular basis anyway. I thought of saying something but I couldn’t.

I was having my mood swings. On any given day, at any given moment, the mere thought of writing causes me anxiety. But back then I didn’t know how to deal with it. I didn’t know how to channel my thoughts and my moods to benefit my creative purposes. As a result I was frustrated, nervous, complaining that nothing worked. In the words of Ray Bradbury,

“Start writing more. It’ll get rid of those moods you’re having.”

With time I have come to realize that whether I feel like it or not, if I sit down to write I do write. And the less I become bothered with passing time and deadlines the more productive I become. It is the producing that satisfies me the most.

Once the late Sinclair Lewis arrived at Harvard, drunk, to talk about writing. “Hands up, all those who want to be writers!” he yelled. Everyone’s hand went up. “Then why the hell aren’t you home writing?” he asked, and staggered off the platform.

And the more I write the happier I am. Because writing has this element of magic to it. Because I believe in it strongly enough to want to do it well. I do have faith in myself and in my work as I do have respect for all those writers out there whose confidence, determination and discipline sustain them against all odds. To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create;

“You must write every single day of your life. You must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. I wish for you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories- science fiction or otherwise. Finally, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love remake a world.” Ray Bradbury


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11 Responses to Why The Hell Aren’t You Home Writing

  1. Lexie says:

    This is a lovely post; I always find writing is so tedious to think about getting ‘into’ – it won’t turn out well, I’ll have a memory block, I can’t think of words. Afterwards, however, I feel so mentally incredible; like some kind of purely mentally-derived endorphins. Writing is a gift of the gods.

  2. redplace says:

    Brilliant and you’re absolutely right. I love what you have to say here and I feel that if I can commit myself to writing every day then something might be done! Apparently, it takes two weeks of daily input to create a habit. Your post was well timed and I’m glad I’ve stumbled upon it. Thank you for sharing this, I won’t forget it 🙂

  3. ahamin says:

    I read a post earlier saying that writing is a love/hate relationship, its kinda tricky and requires stronger will and discipline… I agree… the greatest writer ever created could be out there right now and because he’s too lazy, we will never know it

  4. Thanks for the pep talk. I needed that! 🙂

  5. Sumati says:

    I so needed this. Most of the times, I am trying to write and not actually writing. All I need to do now is sit in front of my laptop and just pour down whatever thoughts/feelings flow through my mind. 😉

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