Writing Secrets: That complex, difficult, miraculous process

 In Jo-Anne Richard's blog, Tips for Writers

I once read about a study which compared the happiness levels of those who had children to those who were childless.

The general levels of happiness were higher, apparently, among the childless. But those with children experienced something different. They had moments of intense joy.

That’s what it’s like to be a writer. My best advice, if you’re thinking of reproducing yourself – in the flesh or on the page – is: you must really want it, with your heart and your head.

You like other people’s children? Of course you do … on a summery weekend when the kids are happy and you’re relaxed. And you can hand them back when it’s time for their bath. But do you really, really want to take them home with you – when you have a deadline, or a temperature, or it’s 3am and they won’t stop screaming?

I know you “enjoy” writing, and that’s great. But how badly do you want to embark on a serious project? As soon as you do, it ceases to be unadulterated fun. Sometimes you struggle with it. You may wrestle with it for months or even years. It could become the hardest thing you’ve ever faced. In fact you hate it. But no, you can’t kill it because the odd thing is, you love it too.

Then one day, it rewards you. The words flow and it looks like it may just turn out okay and, oh, the sun comes out. And that’s when you experience the kind of euphoria that nothing else provides – not sex or drugs or adulation.

Writing is complicated. You can’t want it simply because you want to be published. It becomes harder and harder to be conventionally published. That can’t be part of the equation. You can’t want it because you hanker after recognition, or love, or because you crave the favour of those you love.

You can’t guarantee it will deliver any of those qualities, just as you can never be sure a child will fill you with unadulterated pride or deliver the fulfilment your own life failed to give you.

You need to want that complex, difficult, miraculous process – for its own sake.

Read Richard’s latest blog: ‘Monday Motivation: The supreme improve writer aka GRRM

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