The Difference Between Your Favourite Author and You

One of the great mysteries of creative writing, is that it always starts out the same way – as a impulsion: one of those things that we do “just because.”

Just because of what? Nobody really knows…

Still, just because of something, every writer finds themselves impelled to write.

Initially, it is an experiment to see if we can recreate in writing, what we have imagined. This is why so much rides on our first creative writings…

  • That poem in primary four
  • That short story in JS 1

Because no matter how wonderful our ideas are, if we feel that our experiment failed, either because we didn’t like what we wrote, or because no one else liked what we wrote, we give up.

After all, just because is not good enough reason to continue.

It is not a good enough reason, because people think that becoming a good writer is 80% talent and 20% writing. This is why those who decide not to be writers will say, “I’m not good at it,” or “I lack the talent for it.”

But I shall tell you a secret. The trick to good writing is not talent, but bad writing. Lots and lots of bad writing. Sometimes terrible writing. Sometimes horrible writing.

In fact, writing so horrible that it shall never see the light of day!

You see, the difference between your favourite author and you, is not that they are 80% more talented than you, but that they fell in love with the process of writing: with trying to choose the right words, and trying to design convincing characters, and trying to make stories interesting…

They fell so in love, that their impulsion, became an obsession.

The difference between your favourite author and you, is that they became obsessed with experimenting on words. So obsessed, that just because became a good enough reason to write, and by the time they published your favourite book, they had written at least 80% more than you ever had:

  • If it was too short, they made it longer.
  • If it was too long, they made it shorter.
  • If it was too hard, they made it simpler.
  • If it was too simple, they made it harder.

            And on and on like that…

Until finally, finally! After writing… and editing… and re-editing… and re-re-editing, they produced something they were happy with… and they took it to a publisher.

Who probably told them to go and edit it again!

So you see, even as I finish writing this for you to read, I don’t know whether I am even 1% more talented than you. Talk less of 80%.

But I do know, that I spent 2 days and 2 nights writing these 500 words; and that I’ve edited, re-edited, and re-re-edited, until I am satisfied: enjoying every minute along the way.

Why?

Because just because is always a good enough reason to have fun.


Originally written for the Association of Nigerian Authors Vintage Wine and Fresh Blends event on May 31st, 2014

Damola Mabogunje

Software Engineer by day, Blogger, Poet and Author, by night, I spend my days writing everything from the convex comma, to highly complex code.

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