Why I Am The Non-Writing Writer

Franz Kafka: ‘A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.’

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve dreamed of being a writer. It started in elementary school, when I would make “books” by stapling construction paper together and writing in them these outrageous stories about kids who found magical objects in their backyard or ran away from home and built an elaborate tree house to live in. As a teen, I used to write (and I can’t believe I’m admitting this publicly) fan fiction stories for my favorite movies and TV shows and post them online to rave reviews from super-geeks across the country. And in college I studied Creative Writing and wrote articles for the school paper in order to learn more about the art of translating the stories I had in my head and that I recognized all around me into something other people would want to read.

However, these dreams were lost after college, around the time I entered the work force as a wide-eyed 22-year-old. I started in the entertainment industry as an assistant with dreams of being a TV writer. Fate led me to fall into the reality genre, which turned out to be great for me because I do get to tell stories, in a way. But, the drawback is that work in reality completely takes over your life. Right now, I put in between 60 and 80 hours a week for most of the year as a producer on a high-rated network reality competition show. The good news – I love what I do, especially the people I work with and the experiences it allows me. However, between my outrageous work hours, my dating life and the small semblance of a social life I’m barely clinging to, I have very little time to write. Now, I am 3+ years out of school and I’m lucky if I manage to write 4 sentences in my journal every month.

It’s not that I forget about writing completely – quite the opposite, actually. I think about it constantly. I read blogs and books about writing. I subscribe to and read The Writers Digest. I talk to writer friends about writing. I make lists of novel ideas and characters, of places and themes. I write down titles of articles I could write and magazines that might want to buy them. I make schedules for myself that have blocks of time cut out just for writing. Hell, for the novel that I’m “working on” right now, I’ve been outlining the characters, places and chapters and doing outrageous amounts of research for months, and I keep telling myself that I can’t start until I have it 100% planned out.

But somehow, the words never materialize, and they haven’t for years. I’ll get distracted by a relationship issue, or I’ll get swamped at work for a week or two and I’ll forget all about my list of ideas. I’ll snooze my alarm clock instead of waking up early to write, or I’ll agree to go to a bar with friends if I have evening writing planned, thinking that I should be out living my life and enjoying myself and I’ll get to it later, when I have time. Or, I’ll sit down in front of my computer to write and get stuck after a few sentences, so I’ll check my email, my Facebook, or the Huffington Post and soon my allotted time is up and I haven’t actually accomplished anything. And in reality, the fact that I haven’t written any of my novel yet isn’t because I want to fully plan it out before starting it. No – I’m just terrified about actually biting the bullet and sitting down in front of the blank Word doc and writing that first line.

So, enter this blog. I created The Non-Writing Writer so that I can complain about this weird phenomenon that seems to affect a large population of young wannabe writers out there. I want to explore the real reasons that we don’t write – whether it be the fear of taking the first step and putting yourself out there, or worrying that when you actually do produce some writing, it will be shitty and you will discover that you’re not actually a good writer at all. I want to blog about the so-called “writing life” that seems to elude me, about the ways I and others facing a similar block could possibly get motivated to write, and even about the things that I do instead of putting pen to paper.

And who knows, this blog may actually inspire me to be a writer who writes…….though that may mean I’ll have to change the name of it, and that graphic took me effing hours to make.

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5 thoughts on “Why I Am The Non-Writing Writer

  1. This is great, I love your writing style. It’s like I’m sitting across the table having a conversation, it’s that comfortable to read. I feel the same way, the big blank page facing me – so I started writing short stories. While they aren’t a novel they do keep me writing and in practice. Keep all of those character bits that you keep making, you will use them one day. Some people make an outline, and plot the entire novel out beforehand (not for me) and others are ‘pantsers’ like me. Doing the writing by the seat of your pants. One thing is for sure, Don’t sit down to write a book! Sit down to write a scene. Then do another one. etc.

    Whatever you do, don’t give up. All of that life you are living right now will come in handy later as rich experience to draw from when writing. I enjoyed your post and the graphic is AWEsome (I felt some accolade was due since you worked so hard on it). Keep writing!

  2. Pingback: People I Know Might See Me Here! | The Non-Writing Writer

  3. “Horace Tott spent an uneventful life in Cheshire always intending to write a large book on English magic, but never quite beginning. And so he dies at seventy-four, still imagining he might begin next week, or perhaps the week after that.”
    Susanna Clarke, “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell”

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