I love writing. Every little goddamn bit of it. Writing is all I think about and all I wanna do. I write for roughly six hours a day, every day. A weekly Funbag column: 4,000 words. A GEN essay: 1,200 words. Another few thousand words for books in process, or one-off takes about who sucks in the NFL, or the occasional long-form story, provided I’m fortunate enough to be assigned one.
It’s a lot of writing to do in any given week, but I don’t care. I want to write it all. I write all day to work, and then I think about writing all night to relax. In the late afternoon and evening, I am constantly, to paraphrase the great Walter Mosley, “percolating.”
To a lot of people—to a lot of writers — this sounds awful. In college, I was reminded time and time again that a blank page was terrifying… that I SHOULD be terrified of it. (This was in a writing class, mind you.) This wasn’t my line coach telling me this. I remember the former Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine columnist Rick Reilly saying “I hate to write” outright in an interview. Other writers tweet things like “tfw when you get a lot of edits” accompanied by an obligatory gif of Elmo on fire just below. After he retired, the late novelist Philip Roth put up a Post-it note in his apartment that read, “The struggle with writing is over,” like he had just been freed from prison. You get this romanticized internal melodrama all the time from writers who are hopelessly stuck along the Hemingway/Faulkner axis.
Too many writers have been taught to be afraid of writing and have had their voices suppressed as a result. You don’t have to be one of those writers. I can’t teach you to write like Toni Morrison, but I can give you pointers on how to LOVE writing.
It took me a long time to understand that writing could be a practical step rather than simply an artistic or journalistic one. Take it from George Saunders: You are a plumber when you write. A handyman. Writing is a matter of sketching and building and arranging and fixing what is in your brain.
Once I understood that, and as I wrote more and more, I began to feel the pull of writing: Those wondrous…