Writing is not an easy task and its rewards are meager (that is if you’re not a bestseller author), and yet many people are engaged in all kinds of writing. The reason: There is a simple joy derived from it.
The joy is not the same as the feeling you experience when you win at a poker game or when you watch a comedian’s show. The joy is akin to a feeling of self-satisfaction or accomplishment. It is also similar to what a painter feels after he has put the finishing touches on an outstanding work of art.
This innate joy is what keeps writers continuously pounding the keyboard of their computers for hours. They don’t get bored or lonely as they are entertained by the magic of putting their ideas into words.
Leonard Knott articulates on this point in his book, “Writing for the Joy of It.” He wrote, “The satisfaction in writing comes from telling a story, describing a scene or passing on significant information, as well as from expressing feelings and writing from the heart.”
Knott added, “The sense of fulfillment is always enhanced when, in whatever form you choose to write, the manner of your telling includes use of the right words in the right order.”
Some authorities on writing even believe that writing is a kind of self-therapy. But it could backfire as it could lead to self-destruction. There are cases of some frustrated writers committing suicide. These writers were unable to endure the emotional pain caused a lot of rejection letters they had received. These are isolated cases, though.
Many people choose writing as their avocation for practical reason: It is inexpensive, physically non-tiring and fun.
But professional writers write for the big money. And, indeed, they are raking in millions for writing bestselling books, millions of copies of which are sold in many parts of the world. The contemporary writers, who have become immensely rich for writing bestsellers, include my favorite authors. They are John Grisham, David Baldacci, Nelson De Mille, Michael Connelly, Sidney Sheldon, Stephen King, Clive Cussler, Dan Brown and Frederick Forsyth.
Many of these writers have palatial homes, jets, yachts and expensive cars. Some also have “trophy wives.”
For the writers who fail to find a fat check at the end of the rainbow, their simple reward is the joy of writing. Of course, many of them dream of making it to the big league. And with a bit of luck, persistence and tenacity, they make just make it.
But if they don’t, they still have an advantage over others for being good at expressing themselves in black and white. If they are office workers or ordinary employees, they have a distinct advantage over those who are unable to write simple reports.
How does one become a good writer?
A theater director was asked how he became a good director. His answer: “I direct, direct and direct.”
Writers learn writing by continuously writing. They become good writers by constantly working to improve their craft. They also read books of good writers to find out the best writing styles and techniques. Good writers like Tom Wolfe can express a complex idea in a few words. The amateur writer does it in many words or even paragraphs.
In the Philippines, media people are sometime called “working journalists” because they work daily. Those not reporting on a regular basis are called “inactive or non-working journalists,” a description which, to me, is just a euphemism for lazy journalists.
There’s no way for lazy people to become good writers. For that matter, lazy people will never become good at whatever they want to be.
To my late father, though, any activity done without breaking a sweat is not work. When I was young, my father looked at me as a lazy guy whenever he saw me writing something. What a wasted time, he would tell me.
My father was a farmer with a simple mind, and I perfectly understood his low opinion about me and about writing because he had never experienced the joy of writing.