So yesterday there was this thread on Metafilter about The Most Dangerous Writing App (TMDWA). The premise of the TMDWA is that you set a timer and write for that amount of time. If you stop, all progress will be lost. Similar idea to Write or Die, which I actually own a copy of. I use write or die to get me writing, and more importantly to get me to stop overthinking my writing, just to get stuff down on the page so to speak.
All this seems pretty straightforward until the discussion in the thread turned into whether you’re really a writer if you need tools or “hacks” like TMDWA. And this, of course, is where I get really, really angry.
It starts with a user who in general terms I really admire because I like his writing a lot. But then he says this:
If you need to be tricked into writing, or forced into writing, or cajoled or guilt-tripped or rewarded into writing? You’re probably not really meant to be a writer.
Really? I mean, really?
Writing, or being a writer, is not as simple as that in my opinion. I consider myself a writer. I have written stories and poetry literally from the time I could print. I used to steal notebooks from my grade one class so I could take them home and write stories in them.
And sometimes I need to be cajoled or rewarded into writing. That’s just the way it is sometimes. Life gets in the way. Or I’m lazy. Or tired. Or I’m writing something I actually hate.
So does that mean I’m not meant to be a writer? I don’t think so!
Being “meant” to be a writer comes down to whether you write or you don’t write.
Which is very true. But what’s being dismissed here is people’s motivation to write differs. Again, I am a writer, and hey guess what? I am not constantly writing, nor do I always feel the overwhelming urge to write. Sometimes I just don’t feel like it, and that may be for days or even weeks. But I always come back to it.
Why is the way that I write a problem? And I don’t mean me, specifically, though it’s clear I’ve taken this a little personally. I just don’t understand how the fact that sometimes I have to force myself to start means I am somehow less than. That because I don’t curl up in a ball and weep when I’m not writing, I’m not meant to be a writer. That because I use tools like write or die, again, I am not meant to be a writer.
Personally I don’t care what gets a person writing, as long as they write.