Wednesday, December 1, 2021

IWSG: The Delight and Dismay of a Writing Life

Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month. You know what that means! It's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy, ideas, and networking. If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life.

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

This month's optional question: In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

The awesome co-hosts for the December 1 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, Diane Burton, Louise – Fundy Blue, Natalie Aguirre, and Jacqui Murray! Be sure to check out what they have to say when you're finished here: 

Writing is central to who I am as a human, but it's really hard to explain to other people. From the outside, it definitely doesn't look like fun. I sit alone, wrestling with imaginary friends, giving myself anxiety and angst over fictional people, places, and situations…and I call this fun? 

Articulating the experience for outsiders feels impossible, and I end up shuffling my feet and looking uncomfortable. 

image source

Oddly enough, I think I like it because it's hard, so I guess I take delight in the dismaying part. Make of that what you will. 

Sure, it doesn't exactly feel good in the moments when you're struggling to straighten out a tangled plot or understand the secret motivations of a uncooperative character, but when you do it--when you come out on the other side victorious, it feels like you really *did* something. And even in the moments of struggle, part of me is enjoying it--the delving deeper, the striving to understand the part of myself making itself known on the page, the brainwork. 

image source

It's a highly individual challenge, too. I have a strong support network and love the heck out of my writing community, but there's only so much they can do for me. In the end, it's me and blank page locked into battle and I have to win or lose on my own. 

Then, if you hand that story over to someone else and they *get* it--they pick up what you were laying down, they laugh and cry at the right moments, they get angry at the injustices . . .well, that's a whole second level of wonder and delight. Because as much as I love writing, I'm not sure I'd keep going without readers. I need an audience to finish the circuit. Otherwise, all that gorgeous energy would spin in a circle until it just burned out. I'm not Emily Dickinson, satisfied only to have captured the moment for myself. I want to share it. 

There's nothing else in my life that gives me this feeling. 

When I was a kid writing poetry, I'd call the urge to write "itchy fingers." It was this strange little urge, this feeling of dissatisfaction that could only by soothed by wordsmithing. These days, I feel like the itch is someplace deeper than my fingertips, maybe in my brain itself. But there's a nervous energy that overtakes me when I don't get enough writing time. 

I'm sure a therapist could analyze it for me, but I'm not looking to be cured. It's worth every moment of misery along the way for ecstasy that comes when I've had a breakthrough in a story. 

So, fellow IWSGers, how does it work for you? Can you explain why you love it to someone who doesn't write? 

If you don't write, is there something like this in your life, something you love because it's challenging? 

I'd love to hear what you think in the comments!


  1. Happy IWSG day! Calling the urge to write 'itchy fingers' or 'itchy' something is so apt. That is exactly what happens to me too when I don't get enough writing time.

    1. I agree. And it's anything artistic. I'm looking forward to the day I have time to start another needlepoint project.

  2. Yes, it can be hard when you struggle but wonderful once you figure it out. And having someone read your work and really like it is the best.

  3. I think the closest I've come is just saying something like, "I dunno. It's just what I do." Which is, of course, remarkable articulate. Just what they expect from a writer.

    I like that quote about enjoying the difficulty and loving the process. It fits writing very well.

  4. Hi, Samantha! I can explain the heck out of why I love to write, and my friends don't get it. They're happy and supportive, but they just shake their heads. You're having fun??? That's okay, because I get deep fulfillment from writing. Have a lovely holiday season!

  5. Your words capture almost perfectly why we write and how we feel when we don't write. The next time someone asks me why I write, I should push a replay button to hear your words all over again! Mostly I say that I write because it immerses me in another world, sometimes the mid 1840s and sometimes contemporary Edinburgh, and that I love storytelling. Perhaps that's a residue from sitting around the campfire with my grandfather and listening to his stories as the night closed in. But writing truly is a deeper process, one that you describe here beautifully. May 2022 bring you many more words, many more writing sessions, and peace.

  6. "It's ineffable" —perfect!

    I agree, it is lovely to rearrange things "one more time" and have it suddenly be right.

    Great post!