The Writers Who Don’t Write

By ANDREW FLYNN, Managing Editor

I’ve absolutely had it with writers who don’t do what they say they do.

It seems like they’re everywhere. I use Twitter more than most, mainly to network, and then to reach out to other writers to possibly learn a little from them. From each of them. And do most of them actually write? No.

I’m a member of five writing groups at the moment. Some of them meet once a month, some meet once a week. Some of these groups are large, some are pretty small. There are writers who do write stuff in these groups, but they are easily outnumbered by those who don’t.

Why would you say that you do something like writing if you don’t actually write? There are many reasons for this. I mean, why does anyone lie about anything? The answer invariably comes back to something close to, “because they want to make themselves seem like they’re better than they actually are.” Regardless, fuck these writers.

It shouldn’t matter what you write, if you say you’re a writer. It’s literally one of the hardest things to do in a career. Both in getting coherent pieces of work completed, and then to actually make a living off of it. And even more difficult than both of those things combined is to get a large audience to appreciate it. I’ll admit it, I’m doing the first two, but definitely not on the way-higher level that I’m shooting for. But I am doing it.

It’s something I’ve noticed since the first screenwriting class I took a decade ago at a community college here in Arizona. The room was full of about 30 writers, ages 17 to about 55. Fucking great, a wide selection of writers to get to know and learn from. Seriously, I was totally enthralled the first day. But just like any other college class, the student population seemed to wane as the weeks went on like someone was siphoning them like the damn room was a full tank of freshly-pumped fuel during the pipeline crisis from back in the summer of 2003 for fuck’s sake. At the end of the class, there were seven students left. And only four of them had finished the semester’s work, that of an entire first act of a feature-length screenplay. The other three were just a bunch of clownshoes who acted as writers, but in fact had produced little to nothing.

I want to get into that class, but it serves as a wonderful analogy to what I’ve experienced since. The first few weeks of that class, which on the whole was an amazing course, we learned the theory behind good and effective writing from a well-known television writer who lived in Los Angeles throughout the 1970’s and 80’s. So at the turn of week five, it was time to get some shit done. No more of this talking and whatnot crap. Let’s get words on the page. That’s when the majority of the students decided to get the hell out. Because they couldn’t pass muster on doing the work, much less actually giving the effort to begin to produce ideas that would eventually be the first 20-30 minutes of a movie.

It’s easy to understand behavior like this especially from the generation that I’m from. We’re very lazy, we don’t have the work ethic and chutzpah to do more than we actually have to. This is all collectively in broad strokes, of course. Ultimately, I can only speak for myself based on the life that I’ve lived and am living now. Problem is, it does take work ethic and chutzpah to write and be creative and go from a hundred sheets of blank fucking paper to a work of art that only you could have created using both of those things as the cornerstone to getting something started on the way to getting something totally finished. Work ethic, and chutzpah: you don’t have these, you’re not writing. You just don’t have words on the page.

And that’s my giving a damn.

###

Also from Andrew:

»Running Up the Odometer

»The Breeding of Irreverence

»An Open Letter to God

Afterwards returns this Friday for Part 9!  CATCH UP: »1  »2  »3  »4  »5  »6  »7  »8

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6 thoughts on “The Writers Who Don’t Write

  1. Rajesh says:

    Completely agree.

  2. Christine says:

    Word brother!
    I’m putting the finishing touches on a post along the lines of “People don’t care if you come or not.” Inspired by the prolific Mohana. Whether you don’t come to the page, the guitar or the writers group, stop giving your excuses. Either you’re doing it. Or you’re not. And, like ye says, if you’re not, don’t say ye are and don’t say you want to – just come.

    • Andrew Flynn says:

      Writers can’t say they’re writers until they’ve written. Same goes for any other thing that a person wants to do and get good at. Another difference is that a writer has to live a life too while they’re trying to be the writer that they ultimately want to be. Thank you for your comment Christine. {: )

  3. Lee Lawrence says:

    No truer words were ever spoken about an art form… Writing is the most difficult of all… I have two finished but unsold screenplays but collaborated with a partner on both… I have enough unfinished stuff to fill a closet… I make my money off photography (40+ years) but I have always wanted to write… This article is very well spoken… Thank you…

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