writer-605764_640On LinkedIn recently someone asked the question: is it time to dispel the myths that writing is romantic, by which I guess they mean an ‘idealised reality’?

It’s an interesting question. Rather like the artist in a garret stereotype, the vision of a writer is one of a lone genius in an office, pondering, seeking sweet inspiration, surrounded by screwed up balls of paper, blood, sweat and tears in the production of life’s lonely masterpiece. The reality is rather different. Writing involves inspiration, sure, but the vast majority of writing is perspiration, and for many these days, very little paper is involved. Writing, editing, checking spelling, grammar, and punctuation compile the nuts and bolts of writing.  Being a ‘writer’ is rewriting, changing, amending, revisiting and revamping. That can be romantic. The shaping and fashioning of work are actually sheer acts of hard graft; it may feel extremely tedious. It is also, however, incredibly satisfying, even edifying to see something that looks right and reads well. Writing is romantic in a way because generally, in the grand scheme of life, most work people write has limited appeal/use/lasting effect. It is, therefore, something of a luxury in the activity stakes.

The reality is rather different. Writing involves inspiration, sure, but the vast majority of writing is perspiration, and for many, very little paper is involved. Writing, editing, checking spelling, grammar, and punctuation compile the nuts and bolts of writing.  Being a ‘writer’ is rewriting, changing, amending, revisiting and revamping. That can be romantic. The shaping and fashioning of work are actually sheer acts of hard graft; it may feel extremely tedious. It is also, however, incredibly satisfying, even edifying. Writing is romantic in a way because, generally, in the grand scheme of life, most work people write has limited appeal/use/lasting effect. It is, therefore, something of a luxury in the activity stakes.

That said, if you enjoy writing, you will always take an opportunity to write. You will write on the backs of envelopes, on cereal packets, on train tickets, on your note taking app. Writing is less romantic than compulsive. After a time without writing, I start to feel tetchy, unfulfilled, dissatisfied, and in need, which is why my holidays always involve taking books to read and paper to write on – oh, and a decent pen!