“Wha-? For reals? Writing is romantic?” you’re saying, to which we have to reply, “Well, actually, most writers we here at TVWriter™ talk to say it’s more like this:
The False Romance of Writing
by Chuck Greenlee
A great book was written way back in 1918, then expanded on in 1959 and in other editions. The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White is essentially the Swiss army knife of writing – small and bland, but wildly useful when you need it. The book aside, the foreword written by Roger Angell, White’s stepson, resounds with all writers: “Writing is hard, even for authors who do it all the time.”
There is a pretty big misconception about writing, and that is that it’s this romantic affair between the author and a blank piece of paper or an empty Word document. Media outlets make writing out to be some odd thing in which you go on a date with your words; in reality, it’s a long-term relationship in which you sit at opposite ends of the couch and argue over what to watch on TV.
Writing, at its core, is a grueling task that makes the background music on C-SPAN somehow seem entertaining. (Note: This is not a jab at C-SPAN but rather a jab at the less-than-exciting elevator music it plays between senate sessions. But it seems as if C-SPAN can’t play the best of Frank Ocean, so here we are.)
To be a writer takes a certain amount of gusto and the ability to accept that your work probably isn’t good enough. And when you take it to an editor, you find out that you did everything wrong, and you want to give it up altogether.
“It isn’t good enough; I wish it were better,” Angell writes of watching his stepfather’s struggle with writing. He says his stepfather would sit in his study for hours at a time, and furious clicks of the keyboard would often interrupt the calm pacing that came from behind the closed doors.
But does that sort of technique translate to today? Being your own biggest critic, not having all the words there at once and then hating the final thing you write? Short answer: yes. Long answer: yes, absolutely. That’s at least how this column was written, for whatever that may be worth to you…