Are You a Non-Writer?

The other day I tweeted the following quote by Anne Lamott, from one of her recent Facebook posts. It got a lot of traction with folks and was re-tweeted and shared quite a few times:

“No writer waits for inspiration. That’s just another excuse not to get that day’s work done.”

My friend Jason McCarty then posted this as a follow-up question on Facebook: “What are writers called like me who wait for inspiration? Non-writers? : )”

What do you think of Lamott’s statement? What do you think of Jason’s question?

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Check out my Facebook page – I’ll be giving away one copy of “How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp” each night this week.

15 Replies to “Are You a Non-Writer?”

  1. I used to wait to be “inspired” to write. Then I started writing. I made myself write. I was scared to do this, because I thought if I wasn’t inspired it would stink. Then the more I wrote, the more inspired I became. I think it is kind of like what Zig Ziglar used to say. You have to prime the pump. Now I see inspiration in lots of places, sermons, scripure, conversations, movies….all over the place.

  2. I’m convinced that Lamott is 100% right.

    My sense is that sometimes folks have a message, idea, or creative drive, and they sometimes latch onto the wrong outlet too. I spoke with a friend who had things to share, but he hated writing. He felt trapped, as if writing was his only outlet. There are so many different mediums for creativity and communication beyond writing, so if you fear you’re a “non-writer” with ideas that just aren’t coming when you sit down to write, that doesn’t mean you’re not creative or unable to communicate. You may just need to find a different medium.

  3. I’m with Lamott, too. I find inspiration because writing is my work and my passion. If writing was my hobby, I’d wait for inspiration, but it’s my work. :)

  4. I’m wondering if perhaps Anne and Jason are looking at “inspiration” differently. It could be Jason is the sort of fellow who often has things percolating away in his mind so when he does sit down to write, it’s because he has an idea ready to take shape on the page. To him, that’s inspiration, but he has already down a lot of the leg work in a matter of speaking, just not when he was sitting down and putting words on the page.

    Granted, I don’t know Jason *at all*, so I could be projecting here. ;-) But just as everyone does not share the same creative outlets/mediums, how we get down to the work of writing isn’t going to be the same either.

    1. I so love that you see this and explain it! I do quite a bit in my head as well. However, I never would have thought to put it that way until you did. Thanks!

  5. I’ve been wrestling with this question recently, too. I understand what Lamott is saying, and usually am encouraged/motivated by her words to keep going in my writing. But I do think that writing and the creative experience is different for everyone. Discipline helps, yes, and without it I probably wouldn’t have gotten as far as I have on my blog or in my published stories and articles. I try to write for at least 30 minutes to an hour every day. But sometimes I’m so pressured by the idea that I have to be productive, that I can’t get anything out.

    Right now, I’m in a season where I am struggling to write anything. Instead of being hard on myself for not writing prolifically like so many of my fellow writers and bloggers are, I’m letting myself breathe and rest until the words come back to me. If I write, good. If I don’t write, it’s because the words/thoughts aren’t ready. I show up every day, “butt in chair” as Lamott says, but if all I end up doing is staring out the window, it’s not the end of the world.

  6. If it’s either/or, I’m a non-writer. There are many days that I produce nothing, because I simply don’t feel like it. But I understand the “priming” concept, too. Because often, as my biweekly blog deadline approaches, I have to go find the inspiration. And I can usually dredge it up from somewhere.

  7. I’m guilty of waiting to be inspired. So I guess that makes me a non-writer. But to be fair, I think there are other things happening too. The incessant voices in my head (no I’m not schizophrenic) telling me I can’t write, I’m not qualified to write, I’m too old to write. I should have finished college, instead of putzing around, there are a million great writers, so who needs you, noone would read your stuff anyway… I mean, the list can go on and on… which is probably why I’m still considered a non-writer.

    1. Personally I think I can still consider myself a writer even if I’m not writing every day. There are voices to contend with and my other jobs to contend with. I don’t think that makes me less of a writer. It just makes me a less publishable writer. Maybe more of a future writer. I like that, future writer.

  8. Writers write all the time, whether or not it makes it onto paper or in a published format or not. Much writing takes place in the mind. Some takes place in journals or scraps of paper. Eventually taking the bits and pieces of thoughts from your mind, scraps of paper and journals might just turn into something of substance others might want to read.

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