A Real Writer Writes

In pursuit of inspiration, I uncovered this nugget from fellow wordpress blogger Amrit Sonya Bains at The Writer’s Expedition.

Screenwriting: Avoid Stagnant Screenwriters Like the Plague

She is fabulous. And she offers some pretty rad advice: Just do.

Inertia, noun [In-er-tia]

1. inertness, especially with regard to effort, motion, action, and the like; inactivity; sluggishness.

Inertia is the #1 enemy of creativity. Would-be writers hide behind its mask. They claim inspiration and thoughtfulness and depth, but those are just words. As fleeting and meaningless as a soft breeze. If you’re truly inspired, you let every letter sting like a yellow jacket.

By that I mean: you don’t just talk about it. Nor do you just mull over half-baked concepts or premises. You commit to your idea and put it on the page. Then you rewrite and edit and show it to other [brutally] honest people so they can tell you it’s shit. Then you do it all again. Over and over. Make no mistake: writing is a process.

Maybe you’ve got the gift of gab. Maybe you have a certain eloquence when it comes to stringing words together. That’s great! We could use someone like you. Chances are, if the above is true, you can also probably write. But is it who you are?

Is it maddening when you can’t find the right word to describe a lightbulb? Do you rewrite and edit and obsess over a single sentence till your friends stage interventions? When the world sleeps, do you come alive with an unignorable inspiration? If these apply, you’ve probably felt the sting.

One encouraging law of physics is that an object in motion will stay in motion. Getting started is the challenge. And for me, there was really only one thing that ever held me back. Scratch that, one thing that I ever allowed to hold me back. It was stupid, too. But it’s a simple way to justify any resistance to anything. Yep. You know it: Fear.

But here’s the thing, it’s just a word. A powerless one, if you want it to be. Words only become real when we believe in them. That’s why Middle Earth feels so authentic. Sure, only loonies and cosplayers actually think Hobbits exist. But that doesn’t mean us normies can’t buy into their journey. If we didn’t, Peter Jackson and J.R.R. Tolkien never would have become household names.

Reading Amrit’s post is a great reminder that you are what you do. If you devote time to writing, you’re a writer. If it absorbs you – daily, hourly, secondly – AND it excites you, you may one day achieve something great. But if you penned something in the past, you’re just a lady or a boy or a ladyboy who’s written. Nothing more. And frankly, what you have written probably could have been better, if you’d kept in practice. After all, you wouldn’t run a marathon without a few months (or years) of training. Unless you want a majorly death-tastic Charley Horse.

Beyond that, your world effects you. No artist can thrive in a vacuum. So choose your friends and collaborators wisely. The best fortune cookie I ever received heeded this warning:

“Enthusiasm is contagious. Not having enthusiasm is also contagious.”

I re-read this quotation almost daily. It’s so true. And it’s a constant re-evaluation. Am I the person I want to be? Are the people I’m keeping around enabling me to be that person? If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” something’s seriously effed. The world is what you make it.

So let it in. Let it inspire you. Volley with your ideas. Give and take. And if something ain’t right, move on. Do what you have to do, just don’t stop doing things you love. Keep going. The world will appreciate it.

photograph borrowed from Eloise Moorehead

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