Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Writer? Or Someone Who Has Written?

So this question is one that I have had to ask myself many, many times in my life. I've wanted to “be a writer” since I was 12 years old. I  remember sitting down at my desk in my bedroom with a stack of loose leaf lined paper in beginning my masterpiece.  Terrible stuff.

And that's usually where it ended.

I was always more interested in what would happen after I finished writing. Being on the bestseller list, having movies made of my stories, having validation of my intelligence because I'd written some great masterwork -- that's was what I was really after. So I didn't want to be a writer, I wanted to be someone who had written.

Fortunately I grew up.

I enjoy the process of writing now, except on days when I can't think of anything to write. But that doesn't happen very often, especially if I get enough sleep.

But there is still is a huge trap in this endeavor. I haven't fallen into it recently, but it's been close. Here's the issue. I start reading about the business side of publishing, I start following a bunch of blogs, I discover a whole new realm of information, and suddenly all of my brain power is focused on that side of the process. I'm not concerned about finishing the next work. I'm thinking about how many opportunities are out there for the work that I will certainly finish. I get all excited about it, and then I want to read more about it, and the next thing I know, all I've accomplished is reading.

Then it's an effort of self-discipline to get back into the creative mode and begin writing. So even though I enjoy the process of writing, the lure of being someone who has written is way more enticing. This is not just about writing books. In every creative domain it's easier to be enthusiastic about the daydream, the fantasy, than in the work.

 "All his life as he looked away to the future, the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. What he was doing.”  -- Yoda

For me, enthusiasm is an addiction, and like a crack addict, I compulsively seek out more and more information about what I'm enthusiastic about. Finding a new book or blog about my new area of interest delivers incredible hits to the pleasure centers in my brain. You'd think that being inquisitive and wanting to learn would be a good thing, and it is, as long as it doesn't keep you from doing real work.

I've played guitar my entire life practically; recently, I've had a desire to learn to play jazz. So naturally I got a bunch of books about jazz guitar, and I read them. It was thrilling. Didn't help me play jazz, though. That's why I'm taking jazz guitar lessons now. My teacher wisely does not feed my enthusiasm with books.

He would much rather have me practice.

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