Why I write (and why I'll never stop)

Recently someone asked me how I find the motivation to keep writing. The answer is simple; I write because I must.

Writing is a compulsion. An addiction. A thirst. Without doubt it is the only thing stopping me going crazy.

The compulsion to write is like a knot in my chest. 

I’m at the store, at the movies, in the shower - and it hits me. Usually sparked by an idea; a premise, a line of dialogue, an opening sentence.

Once the knot arrives it gets tighter and tighter until I sit down and let the words out. 

Without that outlet, it’s impossible to function. Without that outlet I’m liable to become even more irritable, cranky and unproductive. Without it, I can’t process thoughts and emotions. I can’t stop the rage.

Without writing I would destroy myself.

In the words of Mark Ruffalo’s Dr Bruce Banner; “You wanna know the secret?" 

I’m always writing.

More than 90% of my writing process happens internally. I never stop. When the knot arrives I start writing externally.

My most recent project was a short novel. I wrote it down in 19 days, all 50,000 words of it. I spat it out. I flooded the page with words.

I may have written the first draft proper in those three weeks, but I had been writing that manuscript for over 2 years. I just hadn’t been writing it down.

Sure I kept the odd note, for clarity. I filled a large whiteboard in my study with single word pointers. But for the most part I had been ruminating, digesting, editing, correcting and developing the story in my head before I even contemplated putting it on paper.

Here’s another secret; there is no such thing as a bad idea. There is only bad execution of that idea. Take my first manuscript for example; great concept, lousy story. 

The battle is finding the right frame for the story. The right tone. The right characters. The battle is sticking with it. Adapting, changing, evolving. Some ideas arrive with the perfect story attached. Some ideas take a lot more work. 

Some ideas will just never find the right execution.

No writer quits an idea. You never stop. You may not be writing it down, but you’re always writing it. Letting it gestate, waiting for the knot to arrive.

Most of the time you can tell a story isn’t working because the tap isn’t flowing properly. Sometimes you can’t tell a story isn’t working until you read it back.

Sometimes it takes other people reading it for you to realise you got it wrong.

But the doubts and the insecurities and the lack of belief and all those other symptoms of the creative mind - I usually fight those battles off the page. 

If I don’t believe in an idea I don’t write it. If I lose faith in an idea it’s just because it hasn’t been developed enough yet. Back in the head it goes. 

When it’s truly ready to be written, the compulsion will arrive and the story will write itself.

There is a wonderful Indian proverb that any of you who have seen The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel will recoginise warmly; ‘Everything will be alright in the end, if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.’

In my writing experience there is a similar notion;

"Every idea will make a great story when it’s ready. If it’s not a great story, then the idea is not ready.”

I started writing because I needed to. I’ll continue writing as long as I have that need. I can’t live without breathing, and I can’t live without writing. They are the same. As long as I’m still breathing, living, experiencing, loving, hating, fearing; I’ll be writing.

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said; 'You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.’

I write because I must. I write because I have something to say.

7 Ways You're Better Than Other Writers

The assholes are always trying to tell you what you’re doing wrong. Fuck them. Here are a list of things you already do better than anyone;

1) You write like no-on else

Your voice is unique. Every word, every sentence, every phrase; used and connected in a way that is singular to you and you alone.

I’ve written about it before but here it is again; you are the best in the world at writing like you.

2) Your passion for your story is unmatched

Your story is the best story in the world. You live with it, sleep with it, eat with it and fuck with it. You breathe it, nurture it, raise it from a fledgling idea to a fully formed concept.

Your passion and love for the stories you create can not be rivaled by readers or weathered by critics.

3) You have the best experience for the job

Everything you’ve done in life makes you the most qualified person on the planet to write your story. No other writer knows exactly what you know because none of them have lived your life.

Your insight is impossible to replicate, your perspective entirely your own. You are the only you there is, and only you can tell your story.

4) You are an expert in your field

You’ve read books that no-one else has heard of, stayed home while everyone else went out so you could immerse yourself in your passions.

Whether it is zombies, romance, or zombie romance, your genre is your life’s study, and your novel is your thesis.

5) You can motivate yourself like no-one else

No amount of reading about how other writers motivate themselves will make a difference, because no other writer can motivate you the way you motivate yourself.

It is only when you decide to write that you actually start - and when you start there is no stopping - you’ll do everything you can to sit down and write. Only you know how to do that. You’re very good at it.

6) You are your best worst critic

No other writer could ever criticise your work the way you do. They could tear your words apart, rip them from the page and slap you across the face with them, but it would only be light relief compared to the pain and suffering you put yourself through.

If nothing else, you may take solace in the fact that no-one will ever be able to make you feel as utterly in despair and full of hatred for your own work than you will.

7) You are the best salesman you know

There is no writer alive, no matter how much of a champion of your work, who could sell it the way you do, because none of them have taken your journey.

Be the champion of your words. Get out there and tell everyone. Tell the world. And don’t stop until the world listens. Writing is only half the journey, getting people to read it is the other half, and no one else can sell your story quite like you can.

You write and sell your stories better than any other writer. Start now.

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Cut The Bullshit & Be A Fucking Writer

I’m a writer. I’m not trying, I’m not hoping, I’m not aspiring. I write. I’m a writer.

You are too, you just need to cut the bullshit and believe it.

The mind is a powerful thing. Perception equally so. Be a writer, and the world will see a writer. Tell the world you’re a trier, and people will walk right through you.

How are you supposed to convince other people if you can’t convince yourself?

Do you blog? You’re a writer. Do you scribble? Write poetry? Lyrics? You’re a writer. Do you slave over unpublished manuscripts written in the blood of your failed relationships? Congratulations. You’re a fucking writer.

“But wait!” You say. “Don’t I need to be published to be a writer?”

“Fuck you.” I reply.

Welcome to the internet. Get yourself a blog, upload some words and you’re a published writer. Congratulations.

Just because you don’t publish books or earn your living through writing doesn’t mean shit. I don’t. 9-5 me is a strategist in a social media agency. I earn a good salary, but ask me what I do? I’m a writer. I tell stories for a living.

Whether I’m writing ad copy or prose, strategies or novels, I’m just telling stories. That’s what I do. I’m a writer.

If you do this solely because you want to try and make some money, then you’re an asshole, and fuck you. If you do this because you’re compelled to, then you’re a writer, and you’re awesome.

Hopefully you can make some money along the way to pay for groceries and lapdances.

How you carry yourself affects how people percieve you. Cut the bullshit, the ‘trying to be’, the 'aspiring’, the 'hope one day’ and stand up for yourself. Tell the world you’re a writer.

It works for hacks (insert name of terrible popular fiction author here), who manage to convince the world to read their godawful fiction en masse. It’ll work for you, John Q. Bumblefuck, writing fiction out of a basement flat in the middle of Who-Gives-A-Shit.

The greatest trick any writer ever pulled was convincing the world he knew what he was doing.

First step; cut the bullshit and be a fucking writer.

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