I don’t love writing. I probably hate the act of getting words on paper more than I should. It’s a process, and it’s hard, and I often feel like I’m trying to beat the words into submission to get them to perform the way I want them to.
Nevertheless, I’m a writer. And I couldn’t be anything else.
Because I love words. I love how words fit together to form an idea. I love how ideas fit together to form a story. And I love how stories fit together to make a person who they are.
Stories are a special type of magic. They have an innate ability to bring you from who you are now to who you’re going to be once you’re done reading. Stories change you. Even if they’re bad, even if they’re boring, you get something from a story that you didn’t have before. A new-found piece of knowledge. A better understanding of the world. A better understanding of yourself.
So I write. I write because I love it as much as I hate it.
And here are the top 5 things I love about being a writer.
1. The crippling self-doubt.
Literally every time I sit down to write – a creative piece, an article, a bit of web content or corporate fluff – I’m faced with some degree of self-doubt: “I can’t do this. Why did I think I could do this? I don’t know the first thing about this topic. I can’t even make words happen. I’m going to quit. Oh eff I can’t quit. Okay, I’ll just do it, and then I’ll never have to do it again.” Of course, it’s not always that bad – if it were, my career in writing would have been a short one – but to some extent, I always doubt that I’m going to pull it off.
So when I do – and I always do – it feels like I’ve conquered an unconquerable task. I love crippling self-doubt, because without it, I wouldn’t get to slay a dragon every single day.
2. The learning.
I’ve always been curious, and writing is an excellent way to be curious for a living. Whether I’m writing an article for work or for Red Deer Living, I get the opportunity to meet some really passionate, knowledgeable people, ask as many questions as I like, learn about something completely foreign to me, and then share my findings with the world. Corporate writing is really no different: even writing a brochure or a website or a news release gives you a chance to be a desk-bound explorer.
3. The crafting.
I view writing a bit like I view sculpting. A sculptor starts out with a block of stone, say, and chips away at it to uncover the beauty the stone was hiding. That’s how I approach writing: I start out with a block of words, usually from an interview or a rough draft, and chip away at it until the story reveals itself. I’m not creating the story; I’m just uncovering a story that’s already there. I just know the right places to chip.
4. The grammar.
I’ve been accused of being a grammar geek before, a bit of a word nerd. I’m not ashamed. I love grammar (oh my gods, I am a nerd!) To me, grammar makes sense of a chaotic world. It’s like math to me (except math is hard): it’s just a series of equations, and if you do it the right way, you get the right answer. It’s probably also a little like physics (I dunno; I never took physics.) When I’m writing, I find a blank page to be a little too “open world” for me – there’s too many places I can go. Grammar helps contain the story. No matter how creative you want to get, you’re always bound by the laws of grammar.
5. The solitude.
The life of a writer appeals to me. I like the quiet. I like the focus. I like the solitude. No matter where I’m writing – in a busy office, at my desk alone at home – I can shut the world out and spend time by myself. My iPod makes that easier; even at home alone, I’ve got my earbuds in and some instrumental music providing the musical accompaniment for my work (my favorites: soundtracks from Lord of the Rings, Skyrim, Braveheart, Game of Thrones, Brave, and How to Train Your Dragon.) In that way, writing becomes a bit of a meditative exercise for me, a chance to be by myself even if I’m not by myself.
So many writers I know say they write because they’re compelled to write. It’s as natural as eating or breathing for them. It’s never been like that for me; it’s always been work.
But there’s no other work I’d rather be doing.