A “Real Writer”

Disturbed writerSomeone said to me the other day that a “real writer” hates to write and will do anything to avoid it until he has to do it.

He recited several quotes from some famous — and some not-well-known — writers to illustrate his point.  His quotes included:

Dorothy Parker: “I hate writing, I love having written.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne: “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

Douglas Adams: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

Elizabeth Bishop: “Being a poet is one of the unhealthier jobs–no regular hours, so many temptations!”

Peter De Vries: “I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.”

Gene Fowler: “Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” (I think Fowler was just re-writing Hemingway, but I liked his version better.)

Mark Twain: “Never put off ’til tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well”.

William Goldman: “The easiest thing to do on earth is not write.”

Paul Rudnick: “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It’s a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write.”


The point is, writing is hard.  It takes actual self-discipline to sit down and do it. To turn your thoughts into words.  Not just words you understand, but words that most other people can understand.  That they can find educational, helpful, uplifting, inspiring, thought-provoking, angering, motivating, life-shattering or whatever you are attempting to communicate to them.

People who do it might love it or hate it.  But generally, they do it because they have to.  It might be their jobs.  It might be their calling or obsession.  It might be required by their academic activities.

If you know the writers I quoted above, you’ll know that most of them wrote or write primarily fiction or poetry.  (It you don’t know these writers, look them up.)  However, it doesn’t matter whether you write fiction, poetry, plays, musical lyrics, articles, blog posts, a newspaper column, a comic strip, essays for college courses, research papers, emails or business letters.  All writing is creative.  All writing tries to create the most difficult product in the world — communication between human beings.

And, because it’s so hard, most writers find themselves constantly tempted by and falling into temptation to follow distractions rather than write.

But my friend was wrong.  A “real writer” is simply someone who writes.  If you want to be a real writer, fit in some actual writing between your distractions.  Dorothy Parker is probably the most accurate of all those quoted.  Most writers at least love having written.  It’s what makes them continue to do it despite any hostility they have toward the process.

Bonus: As long as I’m writing an article using quotations, and about writing, I think I should include one of my productivity tools: a template for writing articles base on quotations:“And I Quote”…Article Template. Enjoy.