I'm just gonna say it. Writing is like ditch digging. It's not sitting around in a puffy poet shirt having great thoughts while sipping tea made from flower petals and unicorn spit. This is the good news and the bad news and I'll tell you why.
Ditch digging is hard. Look at those guys in the picture. They're dirty and they smell bad. They've got sweat in their butt cracks and gravel in their shoes. It's not pretty. Neither is writing.
The good news is, almost anyone can dig a ditch. Or at least, anyone with a good work ethic and a couple of basic tools.. The trick to writing, like ditch digging, is to just DO IT. You've probably seen this advice in every single writing blog and vlog you've ever looked it, and there's a reason. Here it is: The world is FULL of people who talk a lot of writing, but don't actually write much.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not a hater. But I have to tell you, the "I'm talking about writing and not doing it" writer drives me a little bit crazy. OK. More than a little bit. And maybe I'm already a little bit crazy. So . . . crazier. There! Satisfied?
I'm a professional academic (which sounds more grown up and cool than it actually is). That means I am SURROUNDED by the "Talk A Lot of Writing" writer. Professors specialize in this shit. Fake or wannabe writers come in at least three flavors--there's probably more but who cares?
First, there's the "I've got a great idea, but I'm just teaching too much to write," writer. These people think they need "release time," like fewer classes to teach (while cashing the same sized check) or a sabbatical (which is a fancy way of saying a vacation paid for by your taxes). They don't seem to notice that the world is FULL of people who work for a living (at real jobs, not tenured professor jobs) and still write books. They also never seem to produce anything, even when they get release time.
The second type of "Talk a Lot of Writing" writer is the one that likes to write proposals and grants for their writing, and then send emails about those grants and proposals, which then end up about the only writing they do. Other fake writers love this type of writer because they validate their lameness.
These first two are fake writing types almost exclusive to the weird and dystopic world which is Academe. The third flavor is more common in the real world-- the "I just don't have time to write" writer (also related to the "I don't have time to read" person). This person who doesn't have time to write can describe every episode of Breaking Bad and posts pictures of their cats or kids on Facebook 3 times a day.
It's all BULL SHIT! Writers write. Professional academics should be, by definition, writers, but a LOT of them are not. And if they can't do it, its no surprise a lot of other people can't do it either. Why? Because writing is HARD. It's lonely. It's freaking scary. It's laboring in the dark, sweat in your metaphorical butt crack, work.
"Well, hell Peg," I hear you say. Then why would I do it?
Because it's also fun. It's fun to make a story out of nothing. Creativity is fun too. But you know the real reason you do it? Because you can't help yourself Dammit! There's a story or book idea in your head and the only way to get it out is to write the darn thing. And here's what the "Talk a Lot of Writing" fake writers don't know: the personal reward for writing are far greater than the rewards for not writing.