If you don’t have to write, don’t write

writing disease


My buddy Caleb Pirtle often refers to writing as a terminal disease. Once a person is infected, he is beyond hope.

I suppose my experience with the writing disease parallels that of many of the Indie authors who stop by Caleb and Linda Pirtle from time to time. Throughout my life I have loved to read and have felt a desire to put thoughts on paper.  In earlier years, I often wrote for my own benefit.  I had a journal that contained random thoughts, short pieces.  Along the way, I started several books, gave up after thirty pages or so and told myself I would get back to my writing.

Running a business and trying to make a living consumed a quarter of a century or so before I looked up one day and realized that if I planned to write, I had better get to it. I went to writers conferences, seminars about how to structure stories, read all the “how to write” books I could find.

Finally, I bit the bullet and hired a professional author as a writing coach.

That step made all the difference for me because it formed the line of demarcation between the world of occasional writing and the occupation of serious writing. In other words at that point writing was no longer a hobby, but rather a profession I hoped to pursue. Just as in any profession the learning curve has been steep.  Not only does an Indie author have to work on the craft of writing, he has to keep his finger on the pulse of the digital revolution.  This means he must write regularly, inform himself of publishing trends by reading blogs, maintain a presence on social media, develop relationships with other authors.  Add to that building a presence on the Internet with a site such as Caleb and Linda Pirtle, and the Indie author has a full plate.

Which brings me back to the terminal disease.  With all the time constraints a writer faces in the digital marketplace if writing is not his obsession he will abandon it altogether. There is little time for inspiration, much need for perspiration.

writers conferences

I find that if I go a day without writing, I feel as if I have cheated myself.  Mind you, I am not saying that I have cheated readers.  They may be better off with a few days without one of my blogs jamming up their computer.  But as I said, I feel like I have cheated myself.

I suspect  most writers who have stayed with it for a  matter of years would tell you the same thing.  Writing for them is like dessert.  It is the thing that fires them up and makes them tick.

Or to put it another way, they have to write. It’s as simple as that. Writing is as natural as breathing and just as important. They can’t stop it.

Without that compulsion, writers fall by the way side.

It’s sad but true. Or maybe it isn’t sad, but it is true nonetheless.

(Stephen Woodfin is an attorney and author.)

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