Writers become writers because they read something that makes them want to pick up a pen or open a laptop and do the same thing. They want to compose a poem in the style of Elizabeth Barrett Browning or William Wordsworth, or they long to pen prose like Joseph Heller or Toni Morrison.
Inspired, the motivated writer sets out to create her own masterpiece.
Upon finishing the last few lines, she leans back and reads through her first attempt. She inevitably compares it with the art she admires—the writing that stirred her to try—and by comparison, hers seems to sit lifeless on the page. Flat. Anemic. Meanwhile, classic lines from greats like Wordsworth continue frolicking, like those playful, fluttering daffodils that toss their heads for eternity.
Next time the previously-motivated writer encounters quality literature, the great works that once served as inspiration may intimidate her. The writer sees a huge gap between her work and the art that made her want to try, and concludes, My work will never offer that depth and beauty. I want it to. But I tried, and it doesn’t sound like that. Not at all.
In that moment, what can the writer do?
This podcast episode, originally recorded and published in June 2016, exhorts you to keep at it. Fill that daunting gap with a volume of work. Because by writing, you’ll learn to write.
Click on the podcast player below and listen to this short episode (6:53), re-released especially for you here at Tweetspeak, from your own writing coach, encouraging you to do the work of a writer.
Excerpt from Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art
Ira Glass video:
Photo by harold.lloyd, Creative Commons license via Flickr. Post by Ann Kroeker, Tweetspeak editor, writing coach, and co-author of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts.
Is your writing life all it can be?
Let this book act as your personal coach, to explore the writing life you already have and the writing life you wish for, and close the gap between the two.
- Life Notes: Tea is Necessary - February 3, 2017
- Interview with an English Teacher, Pt 2: The Heroic in Literature - January 27, 2017
- Interview with an English Teacher, Pt 1: Texts and Teaching - January 20, 2017
Bethany R. says
What an encouragement for new artists and writers. I appreciate the point of not being discouraged by how incredible published writers write, in comparison to ourselves. And that we (to paraphrase), have never seen their first tries. We only see their end results, but of course those came after years of working and reworking their words. I’m going to share this.
Ann Kroeker says
Yes, first drafts can be disappointing for writers at any stage.
Thanks for sharing this with other writers. We all need to be reminded to continually produce work and fill that gap. It (the gap) shrinks over the years, but we almost always have heroes who are writing more beautifully than we ever will. And as long as that remains inspirational and not intimidating, we’re good. We can keep working.