By Declan Finn
People tell me they **want** to be a writer.
No, you don’t.
Seriously, you don’t.
Look, you can hotwire your brain to write. It’s relatively easy. I did it to myself when I was 16. I wasn’t even trying. I just wanted this idea out of my head. Half a million words later, I had novels on my hands.
To be a writer, your brain is basically ON all the time.
You’re (re)writing TV shows and books. You’re calling plot twists.
When the story goes a different way, you want to rewrite it because your idea really was better.
That news story is now part of your thriller.
Your demonic plot to destroy a city becomes current events within a year or two.
You’re basing people on friends.
If you’re male, you ask the women you use as models what their bust size is, because bra holsters are dictated by boob size.
Then your friends are asking how you came up with this great character… that they don’t recognize as themselves.
You didn’t pay attention to that conversation with friends / family about something really important to them, because something they said ten minutes ago started a plot outline in your brain.
Your brain occasionally overclocks from writing from 8-6, occasionally remembering to eat.
You take a break so your brain can cool down, but then the compulsion to keep writing presses on your brain like a heavy blanket.
You need a notebook next to your bed so you can make notes–because the ideas don’t let you sleep until you write them down.
It’s why I tell people that there’s a difference between “I want to be a writer” and “I have to be a writer.” Because there is.
If you want to be a writer … no, you don’t. If I had my druthers, I’d have been an electrician or a plumber. I’d probably be using electricity to kill people in murder mysteries, but I’d have a 9-5 I didn’t have to take home with me.
If you HAVE to be a writer, you don’t have a choice. Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.
But it’s binary. You are a writer, and you write, because you have to. Or you WANT to be a writer, and you don’t write.