IWSG: The Best/Worst Thing About Writing

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

For today’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group post, I’d like to share a quote:

The mind can proceed only so far upon what it knows and can prove. There comes a point where the mind takes a leap—call it intuition or what you will—and comes out upon a higher plane of knowledge, but can never prove how it got there.

This quote comes from Albert Einstein. It first appeared in an article from Life Magazine in 1955. As I understand it, Einstein was talking about more than just scientific discovery here.

I like this quote because it encapsulates what I believe is the best—and worst—thing about writing.

The Best Thing About Writing

Writing is a struggle.

I could elaborate on that, but I don’t think I need to. If you’re part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, you already know what I mean.

But there comes a moment when the struggle is suddenly over. Your story problems seem to solve themselves, and all your plot points just fall into place. You might not understand how this happened, but that’s okay because at that moment you are a writing god (or goddess)!

This experience really is like coming out upon some higher plane of knowledge. We writers get to have that experience over and over again, and that’s the best part about being a writer.

The Worst Thing About Writing

Except you never really understand how you reached this higher plane of knowledge. Some sort of subconscious voodoo happened that was beyond your control. It was intuition, as Einstein said. It was a leap of faith.

And that’s a bit frightening, and more than a bit frustrating, because when you can’t remember how you solved a problem, you have no idea what to do when that same problem happens again. So much for feeling like a writing god/goddess.

At that point, the only thing left to do is trust some fickle subconscious intuition nonsense will come through for you again. And who knows when or if that’ll happen?

* * *

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our worries and offer each other advice and encouragement. It’s a safe place, and it’s the best. Please click here to learn more about the group and to see a list of participating blogs.

18 Responses to IWSG: The Best/Worst Thing About Writing

  1. chemistken says:

    Yeah I understand that last part. Sometimes all I can do is hammer away at the manuscript, accomplishing nothing, vainly hoping for that elusive “aha” moment when I finally figure out what’s wrong and the writing flows again. Wish I could figure out how to call up that muse when I need help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • James Pailly says:

      Honestly, I think hammering away at your manuscript is the best way to get the muse’s attention, so to speak. Inspiration comes more easily once you’re already writing. At least, that’s the way it is for me.

      Like

      • You beat me to the point I was going to make. We can’t invoke those moments, only recreate the conditions under which they’re most likely to occur. This means taking a leap of faith that it will occur, starting work on something we may not yet know how to complete.

        Although the more times it happens, the less it should be a leap and more just trusting it repeat. Still, I think most writers secretly fear that *this* time their luck will run out and it won’t happen, no matter how many times it’s happened before.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. True–both ends. I have had too many times where my story took a wonderful turn and I had nothing to do with it. I definitely couldn’t reproduce it if I wanted in another book because I had no idea how I made it happen. Such is writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Erika Beebe says:

    I tend to call the writing solution a giant puzzle box with endless pieces that may fit depending on which day it is and where you stuck your hand to pull out the final fitting pieces. I hope that makes sense. It does in my head. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree those are two +/- to writing, but they are both what keep it interesting as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mplanglinais says:

    It’s true. When I’m stuck in my writing, I go work on a puzzle. I find my mind works like a computer running a subroutine, and the solution to whatever has me stuck will arise when I’m not trying so hard to find it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • James Pailly says:

      I’m kind of the same way. Sometimes when I’m really struggling with a writing problem, I just need to go do something else for a while. Then when I come back, the answers that had eluded me suddenly seem obvious.

      Like

  6. Diane Burton says:

    So true. When I think of a leap of faith, I see Indiana Jones take that leap in “Last Crusade.” It is a leap of faith that gets us from the spark to writing the whole story.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jiuhl says:

    I’m still waiting.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Erika Beebe says:

    I really like your reflection. I think the only thing that helps me lessen the frustration is to keep writing and hoping every day that each day is the very best writing day until I get to that point of victory. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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