Not Writing Advice – On Real Writers

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” – Stephen King

A couple of years ago, I would have absolutely agreed with this quote. Back then, I wrote flash fiction every day without fail. In fact, thanks to that, I have many stories archived.

But time changes people.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the quote. Stephen King is a prolific author and can justify the pedestal he stands on. I can also see where he’s coming from. Sometimes, there will be bad days, times when inspiration just isn’t there. The blank page will hurt the eyes more than usual and social media will be 10x more distracting. A professional should be able to overcome that and keep writing.

I see his point, but I can’t agree with the connotations.

The quote sets unrealistic expectations on writers and leads to the thought “a real writer never stops writing.”

There couldn’t be something more wrong than that, and yet it seems to be an omnipresent idea on the internet. It’s almost as if it were right out of a religious text. Lift a stone, and you’ll find this quote. It’s ridiculous. And, over time, I’ve noticed how poisonous this idea is. It divides the community, creating some strange hierarchy that doesn’t need to exist.

Writers have apparatus measuring contests through word counts. Heck, I was even part of the problem. I would see people posting on how they managed to write 10k-15k (and even more) on a single day, so I’d try and compete. I’d try to write as much as I could until I burned out (though never reaching those numbers).

Still, I absolutely hate the concept of who is and who isn’t a writer, and it saddens me that it is a thing floating around the internet. There isn’t a magical number of words or page quantity a day anyone has to hit to be a “real writer.” It’s quite the contrary. Anyone who writes is a writer.

The thing is, people are all different. Just like they come in different shades and sizes, they have different technique, style, and endurance. Some people focus a lot on making sure the parts on their stories spin the right way and write very little over a long time. Some people shut off the editor completely, write thousands of words, and then revise heavily, sometimes even rewriting those words.

I know people who spend years on a single project. I know people who spend months. It doesn’t matter. They’re all writers. Ultimately, the formula is simple. Do you write? Yes? Do you enjoy it? Yes? You’re a writer. There’s no number and no other requirement. Just write and enjoy the ride.