Write from the Heart

Considering I'm doing this with no sleep since Saturday night, thanks to a tight deadline, I'm hoping at least a little of this will make sense. I'll try my best. :)

While watching my fave TV show last week (Criminal Minds), I heard the following quote that struck me as perfect for all of us.


Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
Cyril Connolly (1903 - 1974)

I tend to lean toward the belief that even "real" writers write for the pleasure of writing. (Try saying that fast, three times!) Each of us has reasons why we began writing, but most of us share the first and foremost belief that we began for the sheer pleasure of it. It sure wasn't for the money!

I remember the first full length novel I wrote, although I do try to forget exactly what I wrote. It was voluminous, probably totalling around 400 pages, typed on onion skin paper, for the most part. And single spaced. I did it for fun. I did it to quiet the voices in my head. I did it because...well, I could. And I did.

Now I write on deadline, on proposal, and on a computer, using double spaces (25 lines per page) and proper formatting, grammar, and hopefully spelling. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy it. It means mostly that I write because I have to (deadlines), I need to (proposals to lead to those deadlines), and a computer that has to be replaced every few years. (But, Yea! No onion skin!)

But no matter what I'm writing or how tight the deadline might be, I still--sometimes--find a particular piece of dialogue or a certain description that makes me go, yeah, that's good! And that means good for me, not a reader. Just me. There aren't always a lot of those moments, just those "sometime moments." I live for them, and I continue to write, hoping to have more.

So when you sit down at your computer or with your pad and pencil, ask yourself who you're writing for. Could you stop writing today and never regret that you did, even if you lived to be 200? Or would you sneak back to peck on the keys, trying to eek out the perfect turn of phrase or understand a character who just wouldn't shut up when you crawled into bed? I admit to the second and couldn't dream of the first.

Do you write from the heart? And what is your heart telling you?

8 comments:

Elaine Morrison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elaine Morrison said...

Roxann,
I really needed to hear this. At the meetings it sometimes sounds like editors, deadlines, etc. make writing no fun. It is good to be reminded that we write first and foremost because we enjoy it. You remind me of that quote by Isaac Asimov, "If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster." Thanks for the encouragement!

Sharon N said...

Just today I picked up a speical edition cowboy romance and read the back cover. My sister read the cover as well. She then said. "OH NO. What are you going to do?" I smiled and said. "I'm going to continue writing my story. And it will be my story. My characters will struggle with different issues and the ending will be my ending. I guess the point I wanted to make is, if we stop writing everytime we think our story has already been published, or it isn't good or we aren't writing what everyone is looking for, we will stop writing. The enjoyment of writing will be gone. It will become a struggle. My charcaters have a story to tell and that is the enjoyment I receive when writing. I'm always trying new motivation techinuqes. I'm thinking I have an editor deadline and I must type every day. With that encouragement, my book will get finsihed. Great post Rox. Thank you,
Sharon.

Roxann Delaney said...

Elaine, I think it comes down to writing being what you make of it, just like anything else.

There are times when I groan about having to write X number of pages, but eventually, the "chore" becomes a pleasure. Well, usually. :)

Keep in mind that writing after selling has some of the same -'s that pre-sale writing has. It also has its +'s. We mention those -'s because we don't want anyone thinking it's going to be a breeze after that first sale. One of those "buyer beware" things. Like all jobs and careers, there are downsides to writing.

I've always loved that Asimov quote! Thanks for mentioning it to remind me!

Roxann Delaney said...

Oh, Sharon, when I first started writing romance, that happened to me ALL THE TIME. I'd be in the middle of a story and pick up a book to enjoy, only to discover the similarities! The only author I ever wrote to was Debbie Macomber, and I mentioned the problem. The answer I received was to keep writing. As you said, the differences will be so big, no one will notice.

It's been said that there are only 20 or so basic plots in fiction. Consider how many books have been written, are being written, and will be written, and there's definitely a way to make one of those plots your own. :)

Keep writing!!

Elizabeth Sinclair said...

Fantastic post, Rox, and so very true. When writing takes up residence in your head and in your blood and in your very soul, there'd just nothing to do but . . . write. Everyone's story is unique, because it was created by them, just like everyone's child is unique.

Joan Vincent said...

I didn't start writing for the "sheer pleasure" but from the sheer necessity of persistent voices in my head! But you are right. There was a lot of pleasure in discovering a story could be told, a book written. Thanks for the quote and the reminder of why we write and how we live for those scenes that satisfy us.

Pat Davids said...

Roxann,
I started writing because I loved storytelling. I used to entertained myself with my own versions of the then trendy tv shows like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and The High Chapparal or The Rat Parol. I, of course, played the love interest of whatever Mr. Hunky's was on that week.

A lot of time went by before I took up writing seriously, but that old love of storytelling was still there.

Like you, I find deadlines are hard. They make you write even when you don't feel like it or don't have time.

But underneath my love/hate affair with being a published writer is still the girl who wanted to win Mr. Hunky's heart. Sometimes, when I'm writing the words take over and magic happens. In every book.