General Question

food's avatar

Is it true that writers don´t really like writing?

Asked by food (792points) February 27th, 2012

I just read a piece of a book, where the author said that writers don´t really like writing itself, what they like is researching, reading, and other similar activities that come before writing. I have recently been trying to write a bit, and was wondering if that statement is true and how could that be?

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23 Answers

Coloma's avatar

I love to write, it’s the process of creating that is a struggle. When in the flow it’s sublime, but when blocked it’s a nightmare. I am constantly challenged with the polarities. If I wait for inspiration I often don’t write for months, if I go for the daily discipline or making myself sit down and focus, I end up with a migraine. lol

Probably why I have been recycling a lot of old work this year. haha
I have plenty of pieces I have not fully polished or attempted submission with, so, I can probably fine tune all I have for quite awhile to come, while waiting on new material to float into my consciousness. :-)

GladysMensch's avatar

I don’t know if it’s the same, but I’m a web developer/designer. I love coming up with designs and unique ways of interactivity. Taking those designs and putting them into code can be a pain the ass, because I have to deal with the minutia of code that must work across multiple platforms. Creating the solutions through code can be satisfying in a “Ha, I got you do it” kind of way, but it’s not nearly as enjoyable as the creative process.

So, I can imagine that writers may enjoy the creative process more than sitting down to the tediousness of grammar.

muppetish's avatar

It depends on the author. I love reading, researching, writing—the entire process. However, it can be excruciating when you get hit by writer’s block and nothing worthwhile seems to eke out (similar to any other art.) At university, I have met people who favour for the research portion and others who loathe it. To each their own.

Qingu's avatar

I definitely like researching better than writing. Researching is never really depressing, whereas the actual writing very often is.

danharte's avatar

It depends on the writer and the time. I write and sometimes love it, discovering (over and over) that the writing itself generates the story. Sometimes I get stuck, unsure I know where I’m going and have to back off and “think”. I hate these times, not writing, not thinking, it’s an excuse – maybe it even means I don’t like writing! If I make myself write sometimes the creativity sparks me on and it can be very exciting. Sometimes I force myself and it’s awful, but can be recovered. Ultimately, part of the answer is to decide whether writing is what you want to do, or what you have to do. Good luck!

CWOTUS's avatar

I wouldn’t generalize about anything except that generalization right there.

Jeruba's avatar

It seems to be a sort of love-hate relationship. Many writers find the process difficult and painful. It takes a lot of discipline to sit down to it every day when you feel like running away. Even great writers like Steinbeck have been plagued by the feeling that everything they write is garbage. It’s hard to persist in such a solitary occupation, with such long intervals between rewards and a sense of accomplishment (if indeed there ever is any), without even having the conviction that you’re doing anything worthwhile.

Serious writers often say they don’t write for the pleasure of it. They write because they must. The only thing worse than writing, they say, is not writing.

But one author’s personal view of his or her craft speaks only for that author’s personal view and can’t be extended to all writers.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m not a writer, but I do write a lot. I love writing. I do not like research.

As far as real writers are concerned, I’m sure there is a wide variety of preferences. Some enjoy research. Some enjoy writing. Some enjoy editing.

I can tell you that if it weren’t for editing, I might have the chance of becoming a writer. But I won’t do it. I can’t stand it. I like the flow of writing. Editing is the exact opposite of flow. It starts and stops and goes back and forth and around in endless circles and you never get it right. It just isn’t worth it to me.

I love the process of writing. I love just sitting here and starting with an idea and then letting the words flow and flow out my fingers. Usually it’s not so fast my fingers can’t keep up with it. Occasionally, I do start thinking too fast, and then catching up with my thoughts can become a start and stop thing like editing. That ruins it for me.

According to @Jeruba‘s post, this is why I am not a serious writer. I write for the pleasure of it. I write to see what I’m thinking. I write in vague hope that someone might be interested in what I have to say, but really, I’m the main audience for what I write, and only in the moment I write it. Once I write it, it has completed it’s job. I usually forget what I wrote almost instantly and if people refer to something I said, I can rarely remember it. It might be good or it might be bad, but I don’t think about that. Once in a while someone will come to me and tell me they liked a bit of something I wrote and that brings a bit of a pink flush to my cheeks and glow to my tummy and it does help make it worthwhile. But really, not being told I should shut up and go away is reward all on its own.

gambitking's avatar

I’m a writer.
I love writing.
So….. No.

john65pennington's avatar

It must be true, since no decent song has been written since the mid 80s.

Bent's avatar

I’m a writer and I prefer the actual writing, not so much the research. Research is the “work” part of writing for me.

Kardamom's avatar

I love writing when I’m in the zone. I used to hate writing when I was young and I only developed into a real writer in my middle age. Maybe it’s because now I write what I want to write, instead of being forced to write about high school or college subjects that were chosen for me. Some of that stuff was so dry that it almost bored me to tears.

Also, writing on a computer is a whole different, enjoyable experience, where using a typewriter (where it’s difficult to edit what you have written) or writing by hand, which is often physically laborious (and my mind thinks thoughts faster than I can physcially write) was often unpleasant, in and of itself. I think at about the same rate that I can type on a computer keyboard.

6rant6's avatar

I’m more prone to write than to do that peripheral stuff. In particular, I can write for long stretches, but research or read only at short ones. The following is from what I’ve read about writing.

There is writing for pleasure and writing to fulfill an assignment. The first is exquisite joy. The second is excruciating. Sometimes they overlap. Sometimes writers pretend that doing that other stuff you mention is a conduit when it’s actually a distraction.

Successful writers, full time successful writers, sometimes describe the process as a job – showing up at 8 and writing until 5, 5 days a week. Or as torture. But most of them admit there is some pain involved in getting the book done.

whitecarnations's avatar

I love writing but more so I love editing. For me the writing is the car and the editing is the wax polish. For me though, I don’t like reading. I’ll do it, but I’d rather write. If that makes sense.

Coloma's avatar


Wanna be my editor? lol
I hate editing, I hate micro- combing for errors, punctuation, typos. Editors are gods IMO, what a pain in the ass! haha

Bellatrix's avatar

I was just thinking ‘for me it’s a love hate thing’ and then read @jeruba’s post.

Whether I love writing depends on what I am writing, why, how much writing I have been doing, my mood and whether I have a clear head and no or at least few distractions. I totally agree with @jeruba’s post though. Sometimes, it can be such a struggle. It can feel like I am limping up a hill as I have to drag every word out. Other times it just flows and I love it. I also struggle with feelings of “I am such a poor writer” and then at other times read something I have written after not seeing it for a while and think “wow, did I write that!”

I feel if you keep writing and you make it a regular part of your day it becomes easier to get in the flow. Not always. There are always going to be times when it is just hard work, but I know when I write a lot and regularly I can get into the zone much more easily.

I love the research phase.

Bent's avatar

@Coloma I don’t mind the editing for typos and such, but what I find the hardest is when an agent or publisher says they need substantial changes that require re-writes of significant chunks of the story.

food's avatar

Thanks—I love your answers. You´ve proven that it definitely depends on the writer. At the same time, it´s very interesting to learn that Steinbeck didn´t like his own writing! I would have surmised that maybe it´s the “work” part of writing, having to produce something by a certain deadline that must please a certain amount of people, that most people hate. I like research too but I do agree that it can often be an insidious form of procrastination or distraction.

food's avatar

@gambitking So is there anything about writing that you like the least? Just curious

Bellatrix's avatar

It isn’t the deadlines for me. I live with deadlines all the time. They are about organisation.

With my writing the thing I hate is my desire for perfectionism. I think that would have been Steinbeck’s issue too. I constantly strive to write well but I don’t think I am ever really happy with anything I write. I might occasionally go “wow that’s pretty good” but that will usually be a long time after I have put the work to bed. I always feel vulnerable about sharing my writing. I have to do it because it’s my job but it isn’t something I enjoy.

Yet, I want to write. As @Jeruba said “They write because they must. The only thing worse than writing, they say, is not writing.” That’s it. Whether it be in my work or creative works, I can’t ever see a time when I won’t write. No matter how much agony it causes me on occasions. It is a compulsion.

HungryGuy's avatar

No, that’s not true. Maybe if you worked for a newspaper and had to write on deadline all the time, that would suck the fun and creativity out of anyone. But I’m an amateur writer who writes for the love of it.

I’m also a software developer in my day job. Working in a dilbert-esque environment sucks the life out of my brain cells 8 hours a day developing crappy software that serves no real purpose and doesn’t contribute to anyone’s happiness (except for a few corporate big-wigs). I do it only because I have to eat. But I love programming, too, and my home-grown online Edge Play game is the real reason why I got a degree in Computer Science.

food's avatar

Okay, so I shouldn´t have given the example about deadlines, because each person has a different opinion about what they don´t like. Maybe I just meant that when something becomes professional and work, there usually is at least one little thing that we don´t like about it? That´s what I´m trying to find out. Because nowadays, people try to make it look like you should like EVERYTHING about your profession/vocation, or you should switch, and I often doubt how that could be possible.
Well, the part where you say “I write because I must” makes sense to me, it makes it sound like a true passion and vocation…. I´ve heard some singers or musicians refer to their passion that way too.
Congrats on your Edge play game, hungryguy, it must be cool to have motivated you to study computer science…

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