Who even likes to write, anyway?

Fiction Writers Review asks: Writing: How much do writers like doing it?

This is a question that continually nags at me. I don’t like to write. Or rather, I prefer doing absolutely nothing. After doing nothing, I like to sleep and eat. When sleeping and eating are done, I like to read. After that, I like spending time with my family, watching movies and tv, playing video games…Writing hasn’t even made the list yet! I don’t find writing “fun,” which is not to say that I don’t find it rewarding or worthwhile.

Writing is certainly better than lots of other activities, but when people tell me they love to write, I’m never sure what they’re talking about. They like the physical action of writing? They like wrestling with words, definitions, grammar, style? They flourish under creative tyranny — the certain knowledge that nothing one writes will ever be good enough, will ever match the perfection of the as-yet-unwritten concept?

I just don’t find writing “lovable.” But I do kind of love this Guardian article referred to at Fiction Writers Review, in which several authors talk about their love of writing, or lack thereof. A sampling:

Sitting alone in a room for hours while essentially talking in your head about people you made up earlier and then writing it down for no one you know does have many aspects which are not inherently fulfilling. — A L Kennedy

Writing a novel is largely an exercise in psychological discipline – trying to balance your project on your chin while negotiating a minefield of depression and freak-out. — Hari Kunzru

The struggle of writing is fraught with a specialised form of anguish, the anguish of knowing one will never get it right, that one will always fail, and that all one can hope to do is ‘fail better’, as Beckett recommends. — John Banville

And then the Guardian lists some other authors who claim to enjoy writing and just find it a constant delight. Well, phooey on them.


2 Responses

  1. I don’t know if I like writing, or if I’m just compelled to do it. I don’t think I could stop if I tried. The ideas in my head would crash down on me mercilessly, demanding to be written, and I’d be stuck trying to go through my day with a thousand voices screaming to be heard.

    Maybe writers are just insane people who found a way to make the voices stop talking.

  2. Thanks for posting this. Not liking the act of writing is my dirty little secret. I’m glad to know others feel as I do. There is more angst that goes along with writing than anything else. It’s after the writing that I feel good.

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