Thursday, July 21, 2011

Writing as Work

The urge to write for some creative people is like a delirium that writing relieves once they express themselves in prose or poetry.  Writing is therefore a release - offering a therapeutic effect once the writing is completed. In these instances, writing is like a joyful act which allows their creative juices to flower in self-expression. Writing is not work but a playful activity because of the therapy it provides.  The other effect is the re-ordering of thoughts to proceed in a logical sequence. As someone had said, I write so I know what I am thinking. So writing becomes a necessary activity in daily life if practiced in the right vein.  There may be different ways of expression: the private route via journaling and diary writing or the public route by being an opinion writer or essayist or by letter writing. But these maybe the joyful act of expression where money is not a consideration. On the other hand, writing as work means those professions such as journalism or professional writing wherein it’s primarily a means to earn a living.

For those with a joy for writing, self-expression provides a release plus a self-organizing function to still the mind of churning thoughts.  It organizes one’s thought process. For others in this vein, expressing one’s ideas and opinions also provides a release from their inner urge to be heard. Usually for those with this affliction, the joy of writing becomes work when one transitions into the profession of writing. A reckoning is reached when one realizes his writing does not measure up for the need for objectivity that journalism requires. Hence, another route is taken to be a creative writer or novelist who prefers the creative outlet as a better means to transition into being a professional writer. The initial urge for all these routes is the act of writing as creative play and therapy. On the other hand, if one does not ‘graduate’ into a more professional level, then one becomes a diarist or even a blogger whose act of writing is reserved for their private consumption. The benefit would be the therapeutic release and the organization of their thoughts that encourages them to keep writing.

Those who strive to step up from the therapy of writing to writing as a profession moves from joy to work. This is the time when one realizes that journal writing is not sufficient. The demands for professional writing such as being a novelist require not just the joy of writing but a mindset of planning and analysis. It requires one to edit his own work which needs a professional detachment and ruthlessness to ‘butcher’ his own work. This is the mark of maturity as one revises, throws away, and revises one’s own prose for the sake of the market need. Hence, the profession of writing is no longer the joy that one achieves with the simple act of producing verse. The joy is gone when one attempts to edit his own words when this singular output is thought as sacred like a gift from God. This is where one graduates into thinking that writing is driven from some divine inspiration that one should not interfere with.  Instead, one moves into ‘industrial’ mode where the creative act needs to be trained to produce the work without attachment or emotion.

But this does not mean there is no creativity in the professional writing mode. It’s creativity without sentimentality. This allows the professional to achieve whatever effect is required by the market or essentially by the audience. If the market requires vampire or zombie tales then so be it. This is a creativity that is more encompassing because it does not have any private sentiment only a coldly calculating mind where one goes to the position with the best advantage. There is a multitude of creative avenues in this regard when compared to the usually self-centric or self-involved narrative of the private writer or diarist. In the public sphere, there is no longer an attachment to self but replaced with the striving to reconcile the self and with the society at large – or to one’s market or audience. Perhaps it is a sign of maturity that one leaves the comfort of anonymity and achieves solidarity or meaning with his fellow human beings who are also in this journey of self-discovery and meaning. A great writer or author is able to show the world meaning by providing the means for the reader to achieve their own release and calm their thoughts by sharing the writer’s own struggles. This is achieved by telling stories or sharing the own writer’s journey with the public.

So how does one start into the mature work of writing? One realizes craft is important especially setting a specific time and place to write regularly. This is the normal way of working at any job but one need to lose that inspired urge to write in order to relieve tension or organize thoughts which can strike at different times. Instead, one should work at a regular place and time just like any other job, without seeking divine inspiration or to relieve tension. It becomes a task just like brushing one’s teeth. This is an act of maturity as well as mastery achieved from practice and experience as well as in the practice of craft. Creativity can flower from here as well. The mastery can come from the years spent in self-expression via any means whether journaling or blogging. The key is learning the writing craft and rise to another level – the expertise needed to write without sentimentality or emotion and with cool detachment to edit, revise or gut one’s own work in order to make the prose understandable to others. The release to the mature writer is reached when his audience appreciates his work and achieves transcendence after reading the writer’s prose.

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