Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by
feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a
delivered those words on the Academy Awards show last Sunday, Facebook and
Twitter lit up with cyber-nods of agreement from writers everywhere.
Writers are curious. We’re interested in almost everything. We take movies apart, we question, we dissect. Writers study people and things and motives and places. We wake up in the middle of the night and write down story ideas. Sometimes they even make sense in the morning.
A writer’s mind wanders off – sometimes in the middle of a conversation. We’re sorry about doing that. It’s not that we’re inattentive or uninterested in what you’re saying. It’s just that something you said clicked in our heads, and suddenly we’ve figured out that troublesome plot point. Or you said some random thing like “oranges” and it get us thinking about Florida and we realize our suspect couldn’t have been the real killer because he was on a plane to the Sunshine State.
We shamelessly eavesdrop on strangers’ conversations. Writers are people-watchers. Observers. We wonder what makes people do what they do. And then we wonder what might make them do something different. We ask, “What if?” The writer’s mind is always working. Always questioning. Writers see story possibilities in almost every situation. An off-hand comment, a newspaper article, an overheard personal drama.
The writer’s mind is packed with worry. When we’re stuck, the doubts come trooping in. Can we do it? Maybe this time we really did bite off a story idea too big for our skills.
The mind of a writer is also magic. It creates people and worlds from nothing more than a speck of an idea. And then it somehow gives us just enough courage (or maybe insanity) to throw our hearts, our stories, out there to share with the world.
At least on a good day.