By nature, writing is a unique craft. I suppose you could say that about all art mediums, but I’m particularly disposed to believe that writing is exceptional. Now, I’m going to explain how writing is similar to other art mediums, and how it has a very important factor that distinguishes it from the rest.
~one and the same~
I thought about this blog post while reading a book; which is crazy in itself- I haven’t had much time to read lately. I was lost in the story, lost in the heads of the characters, lost in the beautiful words. I looked up, like a swimmer coming up for a breath of air, and I felt disoriented. My eyes were no longer visualizing the world the author had constructed out of nothing but words. It struck me so suddenly, a feeling of immense respect for authors. I closed the book, gazing at the cover in awe, just thinking- “Wow. This is such a work of art. I want to be able to do this.”
Like other art mediums, writing takes an immense amount of creativity. After all, you have to create worlds that might not exist, you must describe stories as if you were there. You have to spin up a plot, and characters, and more, out of nothing. If you’re a writer, you are creative. Just as musicians search for their songs in the sounds of the world around them, writers must listen to every sound. Just as dancers must study movements, writers must study the movements of those around them. I find that writing as an art seems to be overlooked, but it requires at least as much, if not more, creativity as other art mediums.
Just as musicians and painters are said to be idealistic, searching for inspiration in every corner, authors search for stories in everything they see. As their work is fueled by the inconstant muse of creativity, they can sometimes have a lull in their work when they feel none.
Furthering how musicians and painters are seen as idealistic,their choice of major is nearly always seen as foolish. They are told they cannot make a living off of their art, off of their music or paintings. Similarly, writing creatively, for a job, is often seen as unrealistic. Likewise, they are told they won’t be able to make a living simply off of their respective art forms.
So, what makes writing uniquely different from these other art mediums? It’s a consumer’s need for instant gratification. You put a song on your playlist, you listen to it. You don’t have to work for it. You put a painting on your wall, you admire it. You put a movie on, and you watch it. You read a book, and it takes maybe a few hours.
Especially in the capitalist society we live in, reading is valued less and less. It’s the idea that you work endless hours, and then the time you have off is to be used to make you happy, because your job doesn’t. Now, reading may make me happy, but that isn’t the case for everyone. For many, when they have time off from work, their first choice of activity won’t be a book. They spend all their time thinking and working, and then you want them to work at reading and understanding a book? Not many are interested in that. With this specific market, it becomes increasingly difficult for writers to effectively get people to read their book.
I think Jordan Rosenfeld, author of the book, ‘Make a Scene,’ puts it perfectly:
“You see, most readers are not writers; they don’t know how hard it is to write. They have very little patience or empathy for your struggles. They just want a good story, and they will abandon one that doesn’t hold their interest in a heartbeat. It’s up to you to ensure they don’t loose interest in your story.”
With this issue of instant gratification, authors have to work to ensure they can compete with that.
I see that writing is often overlooked as an art form. To me, at least, it’s such an incredible craft. The ability to weave worlds, emotions, characters and stories together is so admirable. It’s something I aspire to be able to do. It’s something I hope I’m getting closer to.
I hope that you now consider writing for the art that it is!