Do you love to write?

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  • Do you love to write?

    On the most recent episode of Scriptnotes (#119), guest Aline Brosh McKenna said that she doesn't trust enthusiastic writers who claim they love to write. (I'm paraphrasing. I skimmed through the episode to try and find the exact quote but couldn't find it. I apologize if I'm misrepresenting in any way.) This shook me up a little bit. Because I love to write. Enthusiastically and unapologetically.

    Sure, sometimes it just isn't coming. Sometimes the stuff that does come is rancid feces, or at least seems to be so at the time. Sometimes it takes three hours to plow through half a page. Sometimes I think I'm the worst writer in the world and how could I be so stupid as to think I could do this for a living. But despite these moments (which probably only make up less than half of my writing sessions) I still love to write.

    I do my best work in the morning when my mind and body are nice and fresh. Since I still have a day job that starts pretty early in the morning, I get up at an hour that most people find ungodly so I can get a couple hours of writing time in. When people ask me how it is I'm able to drag myself out of bed at (gasp!) 4AM, my answer is always the same. I love to write. That alarm goes off and my eyes shoot open, excited that I get to sit down in front of the laptop and create story. Hitting the snooze button is the farthest thing from my mind. I'm exited to get up and write. Because I love it.

    After hearing Aline's theory on enthusiastic writers I immediately felt like a fraud (because I'm a screenwriter and it doesn't take much to make me feel fraudulent). She is a working/successful screenwriter, surely she knows what she's talking about. The fact that I still love to write has to be a sign that I'm not working hard enough, right? If every single word I type isn't arrived at in some painful way I'm not trying hard enough. Each script should be a lesson in torture!

    You know what? Bull$hit. I have nothing but respect for Ms. McKenna. She's a talented writer and I have enjoyed her as a guest on the pod and look forward to future appearances. But just because she's a topnotch screenwriter doesn't automatically make her right. I do love to write. Enthusiastically and unapologetically. And honestly, I also think I'm pretty damn good at it. I resent the notion I shouldn't be taken seriously as a writer because I love it. Yeah, it's hard. Yeah, it can royally suck at times. The same could be said for... oh, I don't know... parenthood. Does that mean you shouldn't love your kids?

    I absolutely love to write. I love it I love it I love it I love it! Quite honestly, it's the ones who don't love it that I don't trust.

  • #2
    Re: Do you love to write?

    This is why I struggle to listen to things like Scriptnotes. One little comment like that can just suck the energy out of you. We're all looking for validation, signs we're not wasting our time or kidding ourselves, we're hyper-sensitive to stuff like this.
    Script Revolution - A free to use script hosting website that offers screenwriters a platform to promote their scripts and a way for filmmakers to search through them.

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    • #3
      Re: Do you love to write?

      Personally, I'm of that mindset of writers that "hate writing but love having written".

      I love imagining worlds, characters and scenes. Most of my cerebral real estate seems dedicated to doing this. But the act of sitting down and conceiving it on the page, to me, is a real chore. I would do anything to avoid writing. But I do it anyway. Because it's a means to an end to exorcise those darlings.

      I suppose you could say, you love creating life but loathe the act of childbirth.

      Lawrence Kasdan said: "Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life."

      I personally agree with that.

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      • #4
        Re: Do you love to write?

        I love to write.

        Sometimes creative people can't figure out how something that doesn't work for them does work for someone else, so they decide the other person must be lying.

        You do you. Don't let somebody else define your experience.
        Chicks Who Script podcast

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        • #5
          Re: Do you love to write?

          Originally posted by Why One View Post
          Personally, I'm of that mindset of writers that "hate writing but love having written".
          You should hear what Harlan Ellison had to say about that

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          • #6
            Re: Do you love to write?

            Originally posted by nealm View Post
            Sure, sometimes it just isn't coming. Sometimes the stuff that does come is rancid feces, or at least seems to be so at the time. Sometimes it takes three hours to plow through half a page. Sometimes I think I'm the worst writer in the world and how could I be so stupid as to think I could do this for a living. But despite these moments (which probably only make up less than half of my writing sessions) I still love to write.

            I do my best work in the morning when my mind and body are nice and fresh. Since I still have a day job that starts pretty early in the morning, I get up at an hour that most people find ungodly so I can get a couple hours of writing time in. When people ask me how it is I'm able to drag myself out of bed at (gasp!) 4AM, my answer is always the same. I love to write. That alarm goes off and my eyes shoot open, excited that I get to sit down in front of the laptop and create story. Hitting the snooze button is the farthest thing from my mind. I'm exited to get up and write. Because I love it.
            Nice post.

            This sounds a lot like me. Except I used to get up at 3am so I'd have four solid hours of no people, phones, nothing to do but disappear into the page (screen).

            I'm not sure it's that we love to write, though. I think it might be that we love the process of creation. Some compose and some paint and we do it with words.

            Then there is re-writing. That's the blood, sweat and tears part maybe. Though I like re-writing.

            Anyway, we're all afflicted with the same disease and it doesn't matter what anyone else's process is. I used to be friends with a romance writer who was quite successful even from her first novel. She said the idea that the characters "took over the story" or had lives of their own was all BS and writers who said that weren't "real" writers, you have to control the story.

            She'd been at it about ten years when it happened to her and her story went off on some completely unexpected tangent.

            You are a writer if you write. You are a professional writer if you get paid.
            wry

            The rule is the first fifteen pages should enthrall me, but truth is, I'm only giving you about 3-5 pages. ~ Hollywood Script Reader

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            • #7
              Re: Do you love to write?

              I love writing. But writing is really hard. Writing at a professional level is sometimes soul crushing. Because you know every word, line of dialogue, and action is going to be scrutinized by mangers, agents, producers, and studio execs. The writing has to be beyond good, it has to be top shelf, because you're competing with the John August's, Terrance Winter, David Goyer's of the world. Talk about pressure.

              When a script is finally ready to be sent out to the world is the most gratifying end of my work. A week ago I just finished a TV spec and got the thumbs up from the team (managers and agents) it's out into the world, and I feel at peace. After straining over every line of dialogue for weeks. It feels good to know I finished another script and regardless if it sells, I have another top notch bullet in my portfolio of writing.

              Now, I have to create a new baby. And prepare for a studio pitch. *sighs* The life of a writer.

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              • #8
                Re: Do you love to write?

                Originally posted by Why One View Post
                Personally, I'm of that mindset of writers that "hate writing but love having written".

                I love imagining worlds, characters and scenes. Most of my cerebral real estate seems dedicated to doing this. But the act of sitting down and conceiving it on the page, to me, is a real chore. I would do anything to avoid writing. But I do it anyway. Because it's a means to an end to exorcise those darlings.
                I feel similarly.

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                • #9
                  Re: Do you love to write?

                  I like to wait and read the Scriptnotes transcripts. It enables me to mull over certain comments. This one sounds flippant as paraphrased here. A distant cousin to the starving artist saw. As if you have to suffer in some personal hell to produce anything of true value. If you love your craft, enjoy it, you can't be very good and, worse, you're naive, a mere hobbyist. I call BS.
                  Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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                  • #10
                    Re: Do you love to write?

                    Originally posted by emily blake View Post

                    You do you.
                    This.
                    Story Structure 1
                    Story Structure 2
                    Story Structure 3

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                    • #11
                      Re: Do you love to write?

                      Originally posted by sc111 View Post
                      I like to wait and read the Scriptnotes transcripts. It enables me to mull over certain comments. This one sounds flippant as paraphrased here. A distant cousin to the starving artist saw. As if you have to suffer in some personal hell to produce anything of true value. If you love your craft, enjoy it, you can't be very good and, worse, you're naive, a mere hobbyist. I call BS.
                      There was a famous Olympic swimmer -- I'm afraid I don't remember her name -- who was simply a natural. She never practiced, used to stay up all night before the matches, partying and drinking and then she'd swim like a fish and win gold medals.

                      And then there are others who have to practice ten hours a day for years -- and they don't even qualify.

                      There are no rules that say how hard or how easy it is to do whatever it is -- and certainly no rules that say whether doing is going to be a pleasure or a curse.

                      No writer gets to generalize either from their personal experience as a writer nor from the quality of their work relative to that experience.

                      I've heard writers say that a particular piece of work took them so many weeks to write only to have somebody snipe that they should have worked on it longer.

                      But that's not always the way it works. In my experience, the pieces that I finish quickly are the ones that come together most successfully. It's the scripts that have been the most problematic that have taken the longest time, and often those scripts that I've fought with for months have ended up unfinished in the back of a drawer or the computer equivalent. The time doesn't equal putting the final perfect polish on something -- for me, it often equals fighting with problems that I can't quite solve and may never ultimately solve.

                      Now, sometimes I do solve those problems -- so there's no real paradigm. I can have a script that I've written in ten days that's good, or a script that I've written in six months that's good. But those six months often consist of fighting with ideas that haven't really coalesced -- and when they finally do - I can produce a draft in ten days.

                      And as with anything, when things are working, it's enjoyable. When they're not -- it's not.

                      So, those ten days or two weeks or a month, I'm enjoying, whether that's all it takes to turn out a script, or whether it's that amount of time after six months of fighting with something that's not working, which is never particularly enjoyable.

                      NMS

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                      • #12
                        Re: Do you love to write?

                        No, I don't love to write. And I can understand why she is leery of writers who say they do.

                        We need the audience, but the audience is so hostile to our process. So many negative things have been said about my writing, people personally tracked me down to share what weird reactions they have had (very off-putting), even my own friends and family accuse me of "borrowing" or how I made them a villain.

                        I mean, I get it. They have the right to judge and I'm not the one to get defensive. Sometimes they are honestly correct with their negative reaction. But the reception is so belligerent and aggressive that I have to distance myself from my work for the sake of my own welfare. It's not like I'm doing tax returns or root canals here. These are my own thoughts and words being bashed up and misunderstood while I...what? Hurry up, get back to work, and repeat the process?

                        So I like to write. I find parts of the process very satisfying. But it's been many years since I would be caught dead saying I love to write.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Do you love to write?

                          Originally posted by nmstevens View Post
                          There was a famous Olympic swimmer -- I'm afraid I don't remember her name -- who was simply a natural. She never practiced, used to stay up all night before the matches, partying and drinking and then she'd swim like a fish and win gold medals.

                          And then there are others who have to practice ten hours a day for years -- and they don't even qualify.

                          There are no rules that say how hard or how easy it is to do whatever it is -- and certainly no rules that say whether doing is going to be a pleasure or a curse.

                          No writer gets to generalize either from their personal experience as a writer nor from the quality of their work relative to that experience.

                          I've heard writers say that a particular piece of work took them so many weeks to write only to have somebody snipe that they should have worked on it longer.

                          But that's not always the way it works. In my experience, the pieces that I finish quickly are the ones that come together most successfully. It's the scripts that have been the most problematic that have taken the longest time, and often those scripts that I've fought with for months have ended up unfinished in the back of a drawer or the computer equivalent. The time doesn't equal putting the final perfect polish on something -- for me, it often equals fighting with problems that I can't quite solve and may never ultimately solve.

                          Now, sometimes I do solve those problems -- so there's no real paradigm. I can have a script that I've written in ten days that's good, or a script that I've written in six months that's good. But those six months often consist of fighting with ideas that haven't really coalesced -- and when they finally do - I can produce a draft in ten days.

                          And as with anything, when things are working, it's enjoyable. When they're not -- it's not.

                          So, those ten days or two weeks or a month, I'm enjoying, whether that's all it takes to turn out a script, or whether it's that amount of time after six months of fighting with something that's not working, which is never particularly enjoyable.

                          NMS
                          Maybe we're defining love differently. Personally, I don't think love always equals enjoyment or vice versa. Many things a person loves to do can be a struggle at times but they still love doing them.

                          I enjoy a lot of things that I wouldn't say I absolutely "loved" to the point I would be devastated if they went poof from my life never to return.

                          For example, I enjoy working on crossword puzzles. If I were to be prevented from ever working a crossword for the rest of my life, it would be slightly annoying but it wouldn't negatively impact my life in any meaningful way. I'd easily get over it.

                          However, if I was somehow prevented from ever writing again -- not one word -- it would be devastating to me because I love it that much in spite of it being frustrating and difficult at times.
                          Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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                          • #14
                            Re: Do you love to write?

                            In fairness, I went through the pod again and finally found the original statement.

                            There’s two things that when I see them in a writer I get a little uncomfortable. One is writers who really love to write. When you run into people who just love to write and it’s just… “I love it! I look forward to it! It’s so enjoyable!” That always sends up red flags to me. My people are the ones who are like, “Ah, oh, it’s hard.” Of course you have moments where it’s wonderful, but it’s work. It’s really hard work. People who don’t complain about writing concern me.

                            Fair enough.

                            But I see it the other way around: Of course you have moments where it's work, but it's wonderful. It's really hard wonderful. People who complain about writing concern me.
                            Last edited by nealm; 11-30-2013, 06:36 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Do you love to write?

                              Originally posted by nealm View Post
                              In fairness, I went through the pod again and finally found the original statement.

                              There's two things that when I see them in a writer I get a little uncomfortable. One is writers who really love to write. When you run into people who just love to write and it's just... "I love it! I look forward to it! It's so enjoyable!- That always sends up red flags to me. My people are the ones who are like, "Ah, oh, it's hard.- Of course you have moments where it's wonderful, but it's work. It's really hard work. People who don't complain about writing concern me.

                              Fair enough.

                              But I see it the other way around: Of course you have moments where it's work, but it's wonderful. It's really hard wonderful. People who complain about writing concern me.

                              Obviously, for many people, the things that we love are also going to involve a tremendous amount of work and struggle and sometimes even great pain. Just look at our love lives, or raising children or any great accomplishment that we may love.

                              On the other hand, there's no guarantee that the things that we love must *necessarily* involve sweating blood and incessant agony.

                              And let's face it -- if it was all just blood and agony -- just how much, after all, could you really love it, unless you were a masochist?

                              I mean, at times there were real trials and tribulations associated with raising our kids. There was certainly some significant periods of blood-sweating and agony involved in the process -- but also a great deal of joy. When I remember back, it isn't simply that I like "having had" kids -- I actually liked having them (and obviously I still do have them, even though they're both post 21, at this point).

                              And in the same way that something profound would be missing without them, something would likewise be missing if I hadn't and if I don't write.

                              NMS

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