Friday, August 11, 2017

The place to go in your head

Writing is a job, a talent, but it's also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.
Ann Patchett, Truth & Beauty

Novelist Ann Patchett identifies three qualities that make a writer.

Ann Patchett
First, writing is a job and should be viewed as such. That means working hard to earn the expected compensation, whether that be a book contract, royalties, a magazine sale, a weekly paycheck, public recognition and respect or simply the satisfaction gained from a job well done. Many published writers, Patchett included, don't believe there is such a thing as writer's block. One writer calls it laziness block. A job requires work whether you feel like it or not, or maybe you are in the wrong occupation.

Second, some talent is required. Some people with little writing talent have had several books published, simply because they worked hard and got lucky. Others have a great deal of talent but never seem to get around to actually writing anything. Yet the best writers are those with a natural gift for putting their thoughts down on a page, as well as the determination to follow through.

The third quality is one often overlooked, that imaginary friend in your head. Not all writers are introverts, but so many of them are because writing is lonely work, and introverts don't mind being alone for long hours at a time. In fact, they prefer it. Extroverts need other people to bounce off ideas. Introverts can do this more easily within their own heads. It comes natural to them.

"Writing is talking to oneself," Alan Bennett has said, and so it is. You say it in your head to see how it sounds, then transcribe it to written form. Readers are just other people eavesdropping.

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