#IWSG: Three Things Writing is Like, and One Thing It’s Not

Hello, friends!  Welcome to this month’s meeting of the Insecure Writers Support Group!  Are you a writer?  Do you feel insecure about your writing?  Then this is the support group for you.  Click here to learn more!

Sometimes I get into conversations with people who are not writers.  It can be hard to explain to non-writers what writing is like.  They tend to vastly underestimate (or vastly overestimate) how much of a struggle writing can be.  Also, a few of them seem to assume that heavy drinking must somehow be involved.

Today, I’d like to share a few of the analogies I use to help explain both the joys and hardships of writing to my non-writer friends.

Writing is like exercise:

I am not exactly a health nut, but exercise is still an important part of my routine, and I do, in fact, enjoy it.  That being said, when it’s time to exercise, I’m rarely enthusiastic about getting started.  Getting started is always the hardest part.  However, once I do get going, exercise gets easier, and by the time I’m finished I usually feel proud of myself for the hard work I’ve done.  Writing is the same.

Also, after a hard workout, your body needs some time to rest.  Your mind also needs time to rest after a long, hard day of writing.

Writing is like NASA:

Specifically, writing is like NASA when it comes to setting schedules and deadlines.  Everything seems to take longer than expected.  Just ask the people working on J.W.S.T.  That thing was supposed to launch like fourteen years ago!  Almost every NASA mission is, in one way or another, attempting to do something different and new, something that has never been done before.  Unanticipated problems and setbacks are bound to happen.  Writing is much the same in that respect.

Also, writing is like NASA in the sense that it involves big goals and bigger dreams.  Not everyone sees the value in those goals or dreams, and some people will tell you (whether you asked for their opinion or not) that you should focus on more down-to-earth concerns instead.

Writing is like meditation:

I have to admit that I’m not as religious or spiritual as I once was (for reasons that are not relevant to this blog post).  Even so, when I say that I need to get myself into a meditative state in order to write, most people seem to understand what I mean.  I treat my personal “writing sanctuary” as if it were a sacred place, and my writing process is highly ritualized.  This helps me clear my mind of distractions and let go of material concerns, so that I can give my story my undivided attention while I write.

And if it sometimes feels as if a supernatural power—a muse of some kind, if you will—is helping me do my writing… well, that fits nicely into the meditation analogy as well.

Depending on the circumstances, I may try using one analogy for one person, and a different analogy for somebody else.  Not everyone meditates.  Not everyone cares about NASA.  And as for exercise, the statement “I enjoy exercise” can be more perplexing to some people than “I’m a writer.”  But usually, at least one of these analogies will communicate to a non-writer what writing is like for me.

Lastly, I want to share one analogy for writing that absolutely does not work.

Writing is like eating cookies:

It’s not.  No, it really isn’t.  Sometimes writing is easy, sometimes it’s hard.  That’s not true about eating cookies.  Nobody has ever said, “I feel like I should spend more time eating cookies, but I’m just so gosh-darn tired right now.  Maybe I’ll eat some cookies tomorrow, if I have the energy for it.”

So what analogies would you use to explain writing to non-writers?  And are there any analogies you can think of (like my cookie analogy) that absolutely do not work?

17 thoughts on “#IWSG: Three Things Writing is Like, and One Thing It’s Not

  1. Those are all very good analogies. Here’s another: being a writer is like having a job. You can choose your job, and hopefully you get to do one you enjoy, but it’s still work. Sometimes it can be immensely fulfilling, but at other times it’s difficult, dispiriting and you might question why you’re doing it.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Love your analogies, especially about NASA. I want to put it on a placard in front of my computer.
    I can’t come up with something that doesn’t work (like your great cookies example), but for me, writing is like creating a movie inside my head and acting in it. Dialogs. Emotions. Even tears sometimes. Sort of like a theater for the single person in the audience – me. And the single actor – me, as well. Later, when the story in my head translates into a word file, fit for others to read, it might enlarge its audience, but it always starts as a theater for one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a good analogy too! I used to do behind the scenes stuff in a theater, a long long time ago. Trying to figure out how to get characters to do what I need them to do in a story does sometimes feel like trying to coach actors.


  3. I’ve never had to think of a writing analogy, because I generally only talk about writing with other writers. But I think yours (and the ones contained in the comments) are excellent, and I may just steal them! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve had too many people at least imply that I should concentrate on “more down-to-earth things.” Those are the ones who I try to avoid explaining what writing is like if I can because most, at least in my experience, have no appreciation or concern for the art. To people who are more open-minded I normally use the analogy that writing is like a journey, since in both you’re, in a way, moving forward from point A to point B, to put it in a nutshell. To others, often fellow writers, I explain it as being like a creator god especially when it comes to speculative fiction because so much more world building is involved. Well, I definitely like that NASA analogy–I’m three months behind schedule launching my book! Makes me feel better! Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I’m almost a year behind myself. But by comparison to J.W.S.T., I’m doing great.

      I have too many of those “down to earth” people in my life, too. The danger is that if you hear that sort of thing too much, you might start believing it yourself. Best to set up some boundaries with those people, if you can.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve set up my boundaries for sure. And if any of those people are in my own family I just simply don’t believe a word of what they say; it’s my life, not theirs.

        Liked by 2 people

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