Writing Sucks Sometimes, You Know, Just Like Life

Any writer will tell you the inspiration-to-crap ratio is not good. I go through streaks where every sentence gets rewritten two or three times each, every attempt at style makes me feel like a try-hard, favorite words get waaaaaay overused, and the end result looks like a bunch of recycled ideas cobbled together. For any sentence I've written that's ever formed anyone, I've penned a dozen others that only moms would pretend to like. If my writing life is any indication of a writer's life, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Twain wrote Huck Finn while fighting off vicious temptations to make another turkey sandwich or take another break fishing off the river dock.

And hey, this might not be the most subtle metaphor I ever try to pull off, but isn't that like life? Hear me out. Now the inspiration-to-crap ratio ain't so good in life, either, and you know that just as good as I do. Heck, the average American spends 81 minutes a day driving, maneuvering their way into something more compelling. And who wants to be in class? We're just watching another Life of Birds video anyway. Work has the same old characters with the same old plotlines. How many minutes of our day are worth writing to our pen pals about?

But if I stop writing, soon I forget how to write a sentence. And if you stop showing up to your life, won't you forget how to live a good story? Beautiful sentences don't drop out of heaven; they are the children of sweat and stubborn creativity. Good stories don't descend from the sky either; they are authored by people who insist on finding beauty in improbable places, who stare at the suck until they figure out what love looks like there.

So let's you and me make a pact, brother and sister. I'll keep resisting the urge to look at all those delightful videos you post on your newsfeed while I write, and you keep resisting the urge to daydream about Netflix binges when life asks you to show up to the 8 am lab and the like. Sound good?


photo credit: ME. making cookies, like life and writing, also equals suck