The secret of writing

Allow me to offer a counterpoint to the folks who think writing is as onerous as brick-laying and as unappetizing as a plate of steamed cauliflower. Apologies to bricklayers—I respect your craft. And to cauliflower-lovers: if you’d grown up on my grandmother’s overcooked vegetables, you might hate it as much as I do.

But I have a secret. And I’ll say it as clearly as I can:

My name is Elaine and I enjoy writing.

That’s why I do it every day, for at least 15 minutes. More if I feel like it—and you won’t be surprised to hear I often feel like it.

This year, Thanksgiving arrived as I was in the middle of an important creative writing project for myself. I did as much writing as I could before the family came, but I itched to do more.

Out of respect for them—they’d traveled to see me—and, let’s face it, I wanted to hang out and have fun too—I did as much tweaking as I could within my daily 15 minutes. And then I closed the computer and experienced a feeling I’ve never had before. I not only wanted to keep writing, I needed to keep writing. It almost felt like a compulsion.

So when the Monday after Thanksgiving dawned and I waved my family good-bye, I opened my laptop and dove right back in. I suspect this is the feeling that some people experience when summer vacation finally arrives and they can spill out of their cars and onto their favorite beach. Me, I’m not a beach person, but I am a writer.

Yes, sometimes it’s harder to pry the words out of my head. Sometimes my writing feels as dull and lifeless as—well, I used to say the phone book, but who knows what that is anymore? Feel free to insert your own simile.

But sometimes—sometimes it’s pure joy and I end a writing session proud of myself and what I’ve created out of nothing but my brain and a few million pixels.

What’s my secret?

How do I get to that magical place where the right words flow like a crystal waterfall onto my keyboard?

By writing.

Yes, you read that correctly:

The secret to writing well is to write. Every day.

Even on the days when the only thing my words resemble is toxic sludge dripping out of an abandoned pipe.

Even when those days far outnumber the beautiful waterfall ones.

So if, at the end of my 15 minutes, all I have is a document full of verbal toxic sludge—no harm, no foul. Because no one else will ever see it.

And at least I know I’m one day closer to a waterfall moment—if not a whole day, then a paragraph, a sentence. Even a great word. That’s what writing is about. So enjoy it: Write.

  • creativity
  • writing