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This Writing Life: Loving the Act of Writing

4 April, 2012

I do not like to write – I like to have written. Gloria Steinem

Last time I finished a blog post, WordPress brought up the above quote, just as it brings up a writing-related quote every time. This one, though, rather struck me, simply because it’s the exact opposite of how I feel about writing.

Ever since I started writing as a child, there has been one constant love for me: the simple act of putting words on the page. Words of fiction are at the very top of the scale of enjoyment, but blogging, emailing, even writing essays are all on there too. It doesn’t really matter what the subject is, or the target audience, or even whether anyone will ever read what I’ve written – simply writing is what I love the most.

Having written, then? Well, there’s a pleasure in that too, of course. Looking back at a page, a short story, a whole novel that you’ve written is incredibly satisfying, and I think that’s what Steinem’s quote refers to. Having finished a piece, you stop thinking about all the things you’ve done wrong and all the problems you encountered as you were writing – that frustration fades away, leaving only satisfaction (hopefully) behind. And then there’s editing that first draft, an activity with its own rewards, as you hone and refine your work, and make it as good as it can possibly be.

Even so, when I consider that above quote, and think about my own passion for writing, it’s not having written that really makes me happy. Looking back over my past creations, both good and bad, is all very well, but it doesn’t scratch the itch of creativity. Only fresh words, fresh stories, can ever really do that.

I’m curious, though. As a writer, do you feel the same way I do? Or are you like Steinem, and find having written pleasurable, but the work itself a torture?

  1. 6 April, 2012 1:55 am

    There are days when it’s not as much fun—a scene isn’t working, a character decided to do something out of character…. But most of the time, it’s definitely enjoyable. Otherwise, I don’t see how I could keep doing it.

    • 6 April, 2012 9:13 pm

      True, there are days when everything seems to go wrong… But if those made up the majority of my writing time, I’d be the same as you – I just wouldn’t be able to keep going. Three cheers for enjoyable writing! 😀

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