Being a writer

First, I’d like you to watch this video. It’s really short, and I assure you it won’t be a waste of your time. Then, I’d like to tell you how much I agree with what Chuck Lorre had to say about writing.

I’m an ardent believer in the fact that all great writing comes from a place of truth, from a place well hidden inside our soul. I believe that those elements that are based on our own experiences, faults, and beliefs give substance to a story. I can see many writers who are reluctant about that. I can also understand why. It’s the most difficult thing to do. Once you start writing about yourself, in one way or another, you realize how difficult it really is.Being a writer is tough. It’s probably one of the most difficult jobs on the Planet. Because it’s the one job where, no matter how successful you become, you always have to start with a blank page. A page that doesn’t know and neither cares who you are. And that is frightening. Also, if you’re a real writer, you’ll never get the feeling that you’re good. You’ll still feel like writing shitty drafts, there will always be plenty of room for doubt.

Being a writer also means that to some people you might be the best writer ever and to some you’ll be the worst. Art is subjective; you should get used to criticism if you want to make it.

Being  a writer is also about perseverance. You have to write and write and write. The world excepts nothing less than this kind of commitment from you. It’s a world of small steps – so small that at times you’ll feel like standing still. It’s also a world where shortcuts are short lived.

And, in the end, the world of a writer is a world where all odds are against you. Statistically, you’ll never earn enough to make a living out of writing alone.

So, patience is a virtue.

There are no shortcuts, no easy way out.

But if you write something you feel strongly about, people will respond. People will either love it or hate it, will either love you for it or hate you for it. Also, it means exposing yourself, it means that you have to be willing to let others dissect your most intimate thoughts.

Writing may be one of the most solitary of jobs, but it also means that you have to be willing to share your work with the world, to let everyone know who you are and how you feel. And no matter how you call your writing, no matter if you make it wear the camouflage of fiction, it’s still you, just you underneath all the embellishments.

In a way, there’s this odd convention at work. Readers read fiction, knowing it’s just made believe, but they also know that every story holds a bit of truth, a bit of the artist. The empathy of it all, the parts that are to be hated or loved. To be understood, absorbed, discarded as fake, irrelevant, harmful.

Writing is about people. It’s not about characters or pretty phrases. It’s about being honest to yourself, about analyzing who you are as a person. In a work of fiction, just like in a dream, you’re each and everyone of the characters. And those parts, the parts based on the real world, are always the ones that shine the brightest.

Every time I sit at my desk and start writing I know that it’s going to be painful. There’s no anesthetic, no painkillers. If you write real stories, it never comes easy. It’s always frightening. It’s not just work, just another job. It’s not enjoyable. It’s painful.

Some might rightfully ask, “Why write? If it hurts, why even bother?”

It’s not masochism, it’s realizing that all great things require a sacrifice. There’s no way to avoid it. The rewards come after you finish writing. When you realize that your story affects people, that it makes them laugh or cry, that it makes them think, it makes them smile. But the act of writing is not meant to be easy, fun, pleasurable.

The act of writing is just as painful as sticking a needle through your skin. In time, you might get used to the pain, but it will never stop hurting.

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34 comments on “Being a writer

  1. Ned's Blog says:

    Terrific advice, Cristian. And the clip was icing on the cake; I ate it up.

  2. Truer words were never spoken by you Christian, or Chuck Lore. Thanks for sharing his video. Keep writing as will I, whether for pleasure or pain and know that we are reaching someone somewhere sometimes. My goal is to reach children and instill in them a love of books, I hope you reach your goal too.
    :)

  3. Rose says:

    Nice share. Thanks.

  4. Teela Hart says:

    I am writing a piece now…my story, and the pain is-well-painful. However, I feel it must be written. Thank you so much for the encouragement and inspiration
    .

    • saluciani says:

      Practice.. And more practice. I have been writing my whole life, less the last 3 years, and it is so hard to get back into the place that feels good. Thank you for the inspiration!!

  5. librarylady says:

    But once you really get going on something you love, the writing is anything but painful. I can get so lost in what I’m doing that the hours fly by. You’re right though there are those days. I just wrote a post about that as a matter of fact. I like the quote about the steps being so small you often feel like you;re standing still.

  6. I agree with you on this – good, straightforward advice. A family member now long retired from her teaching, but not her writing always taught her students [and me] that you should write whatever you feel like, weather fact or fiction, for twenty minutes – every day. It is one of those tools which has helped many get past their fear of writing.

  7. mjc1520 says:

    Good advice, thanks for sharing!

  8. josesarmenta says:

    Very powerful and inspirational essay. Loved it! Thanks for writing this

  9. daphodill says:

    Fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

  10. JBesanko92 says:

    Gorgeous piece as always Cristian. Thank you for your inspiration and for really telling it how it is. No beating around the bush, or icing an old cake, just the truth of what it means to be a writer and to call yourself one.

  11. helgamatos89 says:

    I just started my blog few days ago because as you well said “you have to be willing to let others dissect your most intimate thoughts”. I was simply not ready and not willing to.

  12. Great advice and inspiring, thank you for sharing.

  13. Sarah M says:

    YES! Thank you for this. It sounds so simple yet it’s the hardest thing to do. “Write what you love”. “Don’t try to manipulate anybody.”

  14. Jen says:

    Not only is writing hard — editing (self editing) is even harder! A lot of people (including myself) don’t realize when they set out to write long form. You might have a great idea for a story, wonderful wordsmithing abilities, but if you can’t organize yourself or allow some of your gorgeous phrases to be cut … you’ll just be writing forever without end.

  15. Skies O'Blue says:

    This is so true. I thought I was the only one who feels the pain every time. Great advice!

  16. emmlaa says:

    I agree with this completely, i started using writing as i form of relief and to get all my emotions on to the page instead of bottling them up. Once I discovered that the honesty of that made people react to it one way or another I began to love it but yes the process of writing does get emotional. I was writing a blog post last night and by the end of it I had the answer I was looking for and finally understood another section of myself… and yes my eyes did water a little, but writers are emotional and the words don’t come out of thin air. Thanks for this post, Chuck Lorre is amazing and I love a majority of his work. :) x

  17. jasminelena says:

    Well said, I enjoyed your blogpost a lot! Am cutting into that subject in my today’s blog post too, come check it out! And thanks for yours!

  18. Deb Lee says:

    I found myself nodding in agreement so many times as I read your article, Christian. Thanks for writing.

  19. Terasina says:

    Great post Cristian and agree. I don’t consider myself a ‘writer’ just a newbie on the blogging scene. it’s painful enough to even blog hehe. I struggle to get my thoughts out and when I do, I end up in a spot with paths of thoughts going in all directions and still I’m stuck in the one spot – painful lol.

  20. topa says:

    That advice seems to work ’cause there is not a single show Chuck Lorre wrote for that I don’t like watching. ;-)

  21. This inspires — “write what you love” and “to engage in a creative process.”

  22. smokelbg says:

    I write from my heart zone. There are millions of people who do not have the ability to put there thoughts on paper. I believe in Inclusion. My son is one of the millions who has been labeled and stereotyped by our society as DISABLED. Coming from the Flip Side Of The Chart one can now view themselves as having an extraordinary mind with unique abilities and a multi-level learning style. My son has inspired me to write. He always states, “Mom whatever you can do, DO.” He is the reason WHY for motivation. He is the ultimate and awesome RAISON D’ ETRE (Reason and Purpose) for a cool Existence. Visit http://nldrecognition.wordpress.com. NLD Mom/cancer survivor

  23. A wonderful piece of advice from a great writer, indeed!

  24. mickiwrites says:

    So true. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Regina says:

    Interesting how people confuse the physical hardship of sitting, writing, researching and editing, or the economic hardship of not making a living with writing, with the emotional hardship of putting yourself on paper and exposing your inner world, especially as a reclusive, introverted and sensitive human being. These are at least three different kinds of “painful”.

    The thing is, writing can be physically draining, but to me writing is joy. A poem (comes suddenly, no time for pain, unless it comes from pain… that really hurts, but it also helps to get over the pain), a short story (it helps to reduce the pain, when it comes from pain, but it does not create pain, unless you never face yourself, or parts of you… I personally don’t know that feeling), a blog (here is what I think about this event or thing… only painful when you incorporate a painful event that happened to you): generally writing to me is joy! Joy of clarity of vision. Joy of exploration. Joy of creating meaning. Joy of asking a good question and discovering answers and more questions. Joy of interacting with readers. I see meaning in expression, I see what I mean, what I think, what I feel. I make myself clear to other human beings and to myself. Primarily, I am writing for the joy of it all. It is secondary to me if you like it or not, but it makes me happy when you feel like I gave you something. When it is very personal, I just keep it to myself, because I wrote it for myself.

    What you Cristian find painful is your struggle between the private person and the exhibitioninst in you. Also, writers in Eastern-Europe grew up thinking that writers must suffer. That is a cultural pose: “Look at me, I am the suffering writer”.

    Chuck Lorre is pretty good at what he is doing. The Big Bang Theory contains excellent writing, humanity, experience regarding the human condition, and even knowledge of special human features, nuances… but only writers and emotionally intelligent observers know that… the audience mostly notices the superficial and the funny, and does not consciously recognize the take away message, the teaching about people and motivation. Here is a post by me that contains some analysis of two characters of the show: http://virtualhumanism.wordpress.com/2013/11/24/curb-your-testosterone

    Anyway, the next time you find yourself in “the pain pose”, look at yourself: What is really going on? Is it really “the pain of writing”? Sometimes it is, but not always. Writing this feedback was neither painful, nor hard, yet it is my truth for you. By the way, I find this trend of Eastern-Europeans writing in English refreshing! I do the same on my own… very unusual in Hungary… Is it unusual in Romania as well?

    Finally, if anyone likes to read about the TED conferences, Coursera or “My Virtual Humanism in Internet Exile”, click and find my 3 different blogs:
    http://virtualhumanism.wordpress.com
    http://mycourserablog.wordpress.com
    http://mytedblog.wordpress.com

    Keep writing! :-)

    • katepavelle says:

      Well put. A lot of that pain is real, but putting it to work is just pure joy. After all, I’m paid to sit in a room alone and make things up. I lie for a living – how cool is that? And it’s so hard to just accept it as a valuable thing and not feel guilty when I look at my hardworking neighbors and friends. I have my hard-earned emotional history to draw on, sure, but when push comes to a shove, digging ditches or dealing with the public as a customer service rep would be a lot harder.

  26. Thank you for sharing the video. I agree that we have to write what we feel strongly about. I tried writing fiction and really could not get into it. Now I have found my niche. I feel strongly about my Christian faith and about spiritual warfare so I am writing devotionals and I love it.

  27. I found I agreed with almost everything you said about being a writer, but I have to admit that it’s no longer painful-I love doing it. Of course, I writer adventure fictions for young adults, so there’s a lot of fun in that, but when I’m finished I always realize that each and every character is a facet of my personality, that everything they think and say comes from my mind, and that all their joys and sufferings are mine. But I have such a keen idea of what my life is about, such delight in seeing it unfold and in watching the lives of my characters unfold, that I don’t feel in the least bit pained. The pain was when I didn’t understand myself, didn’t know where I was coming from or where I was going. Then my characters were confused and troubled like me. Now they set out in faith and joy, like sturdy little travelers on en endless ribbon of road leading toward something exciting and wonderful.

  28. lucifersam87 says:

    One of the wonderful advice I’ve read on writing and I totally agree to the part about writing being frightening. I can write but always been afraid to finally pick up a pen and ink the blank pages with my ramblings. Quite a relief to find out that I’m not alone in all this.

  29. lpp08 says:

    Excellent video! I really enjoyed reading what you had to say about being a writer.

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