Love the Work, Not the Life

Those who write for a living, and definitely those who would like to, sometimes fall prey to this siren:  love the writing life without loving the work.

LIke many out there, I’m always fascinated about how others write:  what their workflows are, how they set up their writing nests, what they listen to (if anything) while writing, what they drink for inspiration, etc., etc. A wonderful way to procrastinate from actually writing yet feeling involved in writing, at least collaterally.

Seth Godin’s post today talked about this addiction and summed up resolving this foolishness of peering over the fence at a proverbial neighbor-writer to see how they do it:

The biggest takeaway for anyone seeking to write is this: don’t go looking for the way other authors do their work. You won’t find many who are consistent enough to copy, and there are enough variations in approach that it’s obvious that it’s not like hitting home runs or swinging a golf club. There isn’t a standard approach, there’s only what works for you (and what doesn’t).

This obsession with “what the other guy is doing” is entertaining, but ultimately hugely distracting from our writerly goals. The acid test for any activity, if you question whether it’s healthy or helping, is the simply asking oneself, “Is this taking me closer or farther away from my goal(s)?”  In most cases, learning whether Hemingway wrote in slippers or flip-flops is not going to get those words on paper for you any faster or better, although in thinking about Hemingway it may inspire you to avoid using adverbs and adjectives. And that’s a good thing.