You Write Because You Have To

You Write Because You Have To
Artwork by Fancy Crave on Unsplash

Hello Friend,

After a prolonged slump in my productivity, I’ve been writing a lot more recently. I’m not sure what has brought in this change. Some alteration in the environment I write in had stimulated such a turn around in the past. A new keyboard. A new platform. Or a new place.

However, my selection of tools has hardly changed this time. It’s never the tools, I keep telling myself. Such tool-induced changes in habits are short-lived.

This recent quote from Halle Kaplan-Allen is pretty profound in that sense.

The best tool to achieve any task is the one that you are going to stick by. Tool proliferation leads to increased complexity, and increased complexity leads to productivity paralysis.

I recently came across a sudden surge of posts where a new tool inspired many people to get back to writing. Each person had a new idea that the said tool would help them in. “The simplicity kills the friction; that should help me write more,” goes the thought. That line of thinking should work, sure. But for the majority of us, our minds aren’t wired that way.

Judy Blume says, “you don’t write because you want to, but because you have to”. She is spot-on; I never want to write. I can’t force my mind to sit at the keyboard and fill the pages with words. I only write when I am emotionally involved in what I write. In short, I write best when I believe in what I am writing. Otherwise, all the words are hollow. The thoughts, meaningless. So, I welcome my recent creative phase.

Anyway, here’s a selection of this edition’s three brilliant works of writing. I hope they inspire you to write as well as you can.


A Personal View on Writing – by Judy Blume

I once met a woman who wanted to write. She told me she’d read 72 books about writing but she still couldn’t do it. I suggested that instead of reading books about writing, she read the best books she could find, the books that would inspire her to write as well as she could.
Those of us who write do it because there are stories inside us burning to get out. Writing is essential to our well-being. If you’re that kind of writer, never give up! If you start a story and it isn’t going well, put it aside. (We’re not talking about school assignments here.) You can start as many as you like because you’re writing for yourself. With each story you’ll learn more. One day it will all come together for you.

The Perfection of the Paper Clip

Minimal, relentlessly plain, and instantly familiar to a contemporary eye even in an advertisement from 1894, its persistence has made the paper clip the epitome of the disposable, anonymous, manufactured object. It is made for secretaries, for assistants, for subordinates and gofers. It only became most useful once there were millions of pieces of paper that had to be grouped, but that also had to be taken apart again. The staple may contain more potential for physical harm, but the threat of the paper clip is Sisyphean: once you’ve clipped the papers together, you’re probably going to have to unclip them, and then clip together some others, and then unclip those and keep going until you retire, or you get that break in your acting career. Perhaps if Microsoft had chosen an object less reminiscent of mindless toil, the optimism of its much-loathed Clippy office assistant would have seemed less demented, and thus less prime for ridicule.

How to Tell a Story and Others – by Mark Twain

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it; but the teller of the comic story tells you beforehand that it is one of the funniest things he has ever heard, then tells it with eager delight, and is the first person to laugh when he gets through. And sometimes, if he has had good success, he is so glad and happy that he will repeat the “nub” of it and glance around from face to face, collecting applause, and then repeat it again. It is a pathetic thing to see.
Very often, of course, the rambling and disjointed humorous story finishes with a nub, point, snapper, or whatever you like to call it. Then the listener must be alert, for in many cases the teller will divert attention from that nub by dropping it in a carefully casual and indifferent way, with the pretence that he does not know it is a nub.

Postscript

Have any recommendations or feedback for me? I’d love to hear from you. Just hit reply, or you can even email me.

Thank you for reading and sharing.

-Amit

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