What it takes

I asked why people write.

Now this: what does it take to be a writer (not like a Dan Brown hack writer, but an actual writer)? Must you have known pain? Loss? Agony? Do you need to be mad? Is masochism necessary? How’s about sadism? If you break down and take the Zoloft, will the need vanish? It did for me. Do you need booze, or drugs, or fucking, or ripped flesh and splatters of blood on the walls? Can you write if you are comfortable and happy? Do you need to listen to sad songs and chain smoke or can coffee and TeeVee do the job? Help me out. I must know.



  1. i have no good answers. but anyone can write. to be a good writer you just need to keep your head out of your ass when you’re writing. or learn to focus when your head is in your ass, if possible. anything and everything helps, but the only requisite is that you have to be alive, in some form or another. if you’re dead, you can’t write shit. and if you’re alive, you can still write shit, but at least you have the opportunity to write better than shit.

    i don’t know.


    • “to be a good writer you just need to keep your head out of your ass when you’re writing. or learn to focus when your head is in your ass, if possible”

      I like that.


  2. Writing is a way to contextualize thought, I think. Some people paint. Some people focus on business growth and spreadsheets. Some people prefer to leave thinking to television. I don’t think it takes a crazy person (unless they want to make a living as an author…that’s crazy).

    But why writing? Writing has the perfect balance of being literal and flexible. Science and business interests are very literal, but not so flexible. Paint and sculpture is very flexible, but not very literal. Writing is the perfect medium.


  3. How hard was it for you to write that question? I’m guessing that it wasn’t very. I can surf the web at random and find thousands of similar posts. Stop being a cliche’ of a tortured writer, just sit down and write. You don’t “need” pain, loss, or agony. Sit down and write. Leave it on the page and walk away. Here’s an experiment: burn your writings. Sit down and write, then burn the pages(or erase the file). Maybe knowing that the pages will go unseen will allow you to work through some shit. If you write something you like, burn it anyway. It will satisfy your sadomasochistic urges. Above all sit down and write. Dan Brown may be a hack, but I guarantee he has a discipline.


    • I write every day. I average about 2k words a day (not counting blog posts and such). I wasn’t questioning what it takes to get the physical act of writing done, but rather what it takes to be able to create meaningful writing. This is a question that plagues me.


      • I’m not sure what you mean by “meaningful”. Do you mean work that you find meaningful, or others find meaningful?
        Is commercially successful work considered less meaningful than a novel that nobody will ever see??

        define meaningful


      • work that both I and others will be in some way moved by.

        Success means nothing. maybe great books have been big hits, so have many terrible ones. Art exists to effect the emotions and engage the mind.


  4. vanished me too. but prozac.


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