What Kind of Writer are You?

For awhile I’ve been discouraged at my lack of production with writing. I write a few things now and then that tend to be compact and unadorned. I frivolously call myself a writer to those who ask, but I mock myself behind their backs. I imagine a real writer as someone who pours out words onto the page (screen) all day, can turn a witty spin on any circumstance, and has fun in every moment of effortless creating. I can do none of those things. Especially the having fun while making it look easy part. I love writing, but I think what I love more is the feeling of finishing something and seeing all those words that I thought up squished together – no matter how unsightly – as some form of complete product. I find the actual process tedious and tiresome.
I’ve decided there are two kinds of writers I recognize against which I apparently juxtapose myself: the Prolific writer (hence the feelings of less than greatness) and the Great writer. I have not, until now, distinguished between the two. In fact, I thought they were the same creature, but now I know I was wrong. A writer can be prolific without being great and great without being prolific, as well as both at once. This recognition has set me free. I thought I would never be a real writer because I don’t have shelves filled with my words. Fortunately for me, the two can be mutally exclusive.
Since I will never be Prolific, I have decided to be Great.

One thought on “What Kind of Writer are You?

  1. “You put a piece of paper in the typewriter, or you turn on your computer and bring up the right file, and then you stare at it for an hour or so. You begin rocking, just a little at first, and then like a huge autistic child. You look at the ceiling, and over at the clock, yawn, and stare at the paper again. Then, with your fingers poised on the keyboard, you squint at an image that is forming in your mind – a scene, a locale, a character, whatever – and you try to quiet your mind so you can hear what that landscape or character has to say above the other voices in your mind. The other voices are banshees and drunken monkeys. They are the voices of anxiety, judgment, doom, guilt. Also, severe hypochondria. There may be a Nurse Rached-like listing of things that must be done right this moment, foods that must come out of the freezer, appointments that must be canceled or made, hairs that must be tweezed. But you hold an imaginary gun to your head and make yourself stay at the desk. There is a vague pain at the base of your neck. It crosses your mind that you have meningitis. Then the phone rings and you look up at the ceiling with fury, summon every ounce of noblesse oblige, and answer the call politely, with maybe the just merest hint of irritation. The caller asks if you’re working, and you say yeah, because you are.”
    Anne Lamott


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