Ten things I hate about being a writer

Published: November 28, 2010
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Most writers have a love-hate relationship with their writing.

1.       Bleeding on the pages. To my chagrin, I’m one of those writers who unconsciously project themselves in their writing. I’m frequently baffled when people ask why my character is so similar to me or people I know until they point out the obvious details I’ve missed.

2.       Getting too involved. It’s bad enough that my best friend/editor keeps begging me not to kill a particular character she’s fond of, if I didn’t write in the fantasy genre, there would be no rational way for me to bring back people from the dead just because I like them too much to kill them. Thank God for necromancy! And similarly, every time I write a particularly gruesome violent scene, I need to take a walk and clear my head; don’t even get me started on the state I’m in when I write sad scenes.

3.       Wannabe ‘writers’. I don’t care how mean it is, it’s true; teachers that told you anyone could write were only trying to encourage you to work hard and pass English. The truth is, you either have a gift or you don’t. “True ease in writing comes with art, not chance, as those move best that have learned to dance.”

4.       The critique. While I’m frequently amused that people assume (wrongfully) that I can dish out harsh criticism but can’t take it (they’ve obviously never met my father) I hate it when people start  getting personal. One poor chap on ET had the authenticity of his Fulbright scholarship questioned; I was branded a fundamentalist despite a previous statement I’d made declaring my lack of religiosity, purely for the sake of making a point. I mean, someone please explain, why should I sit and explain my philosophy on life and religion to a stranger online?

5.       The inability to concentrate on anything else. I didn’t get a C in my marketing midterm because I was sick. I got a C because I was too busy frantically finishing a story that insisted on being told ASAP till 1 o’clock in the night. My teacher was quite disappointed by my grade but hey, it was a good story at least.

6.       The dreams. I’m one of those retarded writers who dreams up ideas for stories, and by that, I mean literally dream up. If it wasn’t nightmares back in my supernatural writing days, it’s detailed, explicit dreams now which just end up exhausting me despite the eight hours of sleep. Not a fun thing when you’re facing a day of classes from eight to five.

7.       The stereotypical perceptions. It’s bad enough that I wear glasses, and actually prefer them to contacts, but I had to be a dreamy eyed writer too; that so does not help my case. Every time a relative calls me “Professor Sahiba” or “Arastoo” I want to kill myself. For one thing, I hardly think I could ever measure to someone like Aristotle, not to mention there is a vast difference between a writer and a philosopher. For another, no. Just no. Quit it. I’ve run into a couple of writers/editors once or twice. They’re gorgeous, stylish, and cool. One of them even watches How I Met Your Mother. Hardly geek tendencies, I think.

8.       People calling in favours. My friends from school, college, university, are frequently texting or calling me and begging me to do some English assignment for them. I adore my friends, and never say no, hell I offer to do it sometimes when they don’t even ask because I like my friends and I like to write. But do they really have to ask such favours four hours before the deadline? Even I have my limits.

9.       The dismal prospects. Let’s face it, writers don’t make much. I’ve resigned myself to starving for my craft, and really I’d never have it any way, but sometimes I really wish my parents had encouraged me to be a doctor instead of nurturing my talent.

10.   The inability to quit. Sure, I could sell my soul and switch to a more lucrative field. But then again, that would mean living life “With that one talent which is death to hide, lodged in me useless.” So what if I got a C  in marketing and disappointed Ma’am Jacqueline, that story was awesome! I love my mighty quill and I love the torturous mind-numbing obsessive roller coaster experience of writing. I love the people that hate my writing and I love the people who like it even more. Sure, I could quit. But that would be akin to quitting breathing. So I plod on weary and resigned in my love-hate relationship with writing.

ghausia.rashid

Ghausia Rashid

A BSS student majoring in journalism at Bahria University. She enjoys writing about anything that matters, is an avid reader, talks more than she should, and to her bemusement, is frequently asked if people find her annoying! She is interested in activism, politics and culture.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://twitter.com/cinnamonmela Amna Mela

    Oh man, I feel ya.
    I’m naturally inclined to writing, yet here I am, in med school. As Judy Blume says, “We don’t write because we want to, we write because we have to.” If I get an idea, I’m uneasy and restless until I put it into words. And yet I wanted to be a doctor although I’m not as naturally gifted for science as I am with language skills. I don’t regret it but I do often wonder ‘what if’ I had gone on to study Literature, Journalism, Creative Writing…
    The grass is greener on the other side?

    3,4,5- I whole-heartedly agree.

    The dreams- J.K. Rowling always said that she let the story come to her through her dreams. But if I did that, my writing would be more horrific than Japanese horror movies. But I do think having this ability is super cool! Sorta like having a photographic memory in med school. Otherwise you just have to do it the old fashioned way, using your imagination.

    Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading it.Recommend

  • http://www.regeneration-dot-com.blogspot.com Sajjad Ahmed

    The ability to write is of no benefit unless you put it to good use, and that requires ingenuity and the ability to think beyond norms, the ability to guide people’s perceptions, and the ability to put your target audience to a collective constructive benefit !Recommend

  • Ali Hassan

    Didn’t know you guys take it so seriously.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/143/taha-kerar/ Taha Kehar

    Splendid piece, Ghausia! :)
    6 and 8 are a recurring amongst many budding writers. Although the bit on “wannabe writers” is debatable. Anyone with a compelling story and an eagerness to tell it within the framework of words, is a writer. The ”art” of writing is continually sharpened. And that’s the best thing about being a writer: the ability to modulate ideas in unexpected ways.
    Good luck! Recommend

  • http://syedaabidabokhari.wordpress.com The Only Normal Person Here.

    Amusing piece. Your 5 and 8 points in particular. This piece is both objective and subjective, well done there.Recommend

  • parvez

    I am awe struck by any artist, be it a singer a painter a writer. These are creative people and they stand apart.
    Your No:10 – inability to quit, out weighs the other nine. Recommend

  • Raza Raja

    I do not think that writing is a God’s gift. Yes few are more “talented” but literally everyone can improve through reading and writing.

    Although it was a good write up but there were hints of over confidence in the self ability.Recommend

  • http://zealforwriting.blogspot.com Sarah B. Haider

    I wholeheartedly agree to point number 6. Recommend

  • Arachnid

    I laughed hardest at #3. I’m guessing that bit was inspired by the invisible Pulitzers on your shelf. Yeah, down with those “wannabe writers”! Recommend

  • SadafFayyaz

    Points 7, 8 and 10………damn true………Recommend

  • Waqqas Iftikhar

    I have an uncle…tough as nails guy who basically brought up a software company from nothing. My grandpa died when he was really young but he was smart studied a lot of math and computers got rich.
    Now I happened to have some talent at, well getting good grades in school, so of course there was an awkward family dinner where i was asked what I would like to be…I said I would like to write, and my uncle told me the story of Herman Melville, y’know the guy who wrote Moby Dick (cue giggles…). Well, Melville died penniless and moby dick was panned by critics to the point where he was referred to as herbert melville in his obituary…..moral of the story being that he thought writers die one of two ways

    of starvation and/or alcohol because they are so damn poor
    they kill themselves because they are frustrated with their lives

    great story to tell an impressionable 14-15 year old….my uncle likes to burst bubbles like that..needless to say, i couldnt finish the chicken tenders i was eating at the time….and i love chicken tendersRecommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    Writing especially one that originates from the heart often attracts criticism, well criticism is healthy so i dont, we writters make mistakes also.Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    @Amna You know, its funny, most good writers I know are often in med school! What are you people doing, there’s plenty of doctors out there, serve the masses with your mighty quill damnit! :D The way I see it, whether ou write fiction to entertain, or write in a newspaper to protect the principles of freedom, justice, etc. or if you’re a doctor, in both cases, you’re helping people, serving the masses. Maybe that’s just a similar trait doctors and writers have? Okay that sounds really stupid to me now lol.

    @Taha Hi! See, the ‘art’ can only be sharpened if you have a gift, otherwise, there’s nothing to nurture in the first place, so you won’t be a good writer. Simple.

    @arachnid Aww, you’re so sweet. I enjoy talking to people of sunny dispositions like you. :)

    @Waqas dude your story was really, really, really awesome. You rock. :D

    @all I’m so glad so many other writers agree with me, I figured everyone would just call me a retard, its good to know I’m not the only one! Thank you all for the feedback, greatly appreciate it, glad you guys enjoyed reading this.Recommend

  • Anon

    Pfft you’ve just recycled all your old comments into a blog. Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    @Anon:
    LOL. Sorry you feel that way, but I’m pretty sure the only comment you’d remember is the 3rd one. I don’t think I need to sit and whine to everyone in the comments about how my friend asked me to do an assignment at the last minute, or how chacha called me Professor Sahiba AGAIN or how I didn’t sleep well due to dreams. So one point does not a recycled blog make, mainly because I always say the same thing about faux writers, and always quote Pope to emphasize my point. Its sweet that you pay such close attention to what I say though, thanks. :PRecommend

  • http://girlfromkarachi.wordpress.com/ Nida

    Love it:Writing and your post both! its true writing is an inborn talent and yes we all have friends who want us to do their english essays..ugh!Recommend

  • http://dreamsbecomedestiny.wordpress.com Fatima

    nice!
    I ll also add this to wannabe “writers”,
    “covering up insignificant content with a display/flaunt of English vocabulary!”Recommend

  • Amna Mela

    @Ghausia- That’s why I find Khaled Hosseini such an inspiration. He does both!Recommend

  • http://bakedsunshine.wordpress.com/ Shumaila

    If you’re genuine to your profession, whatever that may be, you’re helping humanity. So by quill or steth, it doesn’t really matter :P

    I’ve read and commented on this before, so it doesn’t need my commendation :) but still. Good job, and I hope you get all successful and filthy rich by writing so all the blood, tears, teeth gnashing, sweat and ink are compensated for :DRecommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    @Fatima Um…scratches head I’, pretty sure you’re being sarcastic and mocking me here, so I’ll just say what up and let it go. :)

    @Amna Mela Oh I’m not really a fan of his, he’s as overrated as Paulo Coelho by my book so not the best example. :D

    @Shumaila Eh, I’m resigned to starving for my craft man. :PRecommend

  • Syeda Zunaira Zubair

    I totally agree to point 8. I love to write too. But my mother thinks that I can make better amount of money with Economics and Statistics. And since I’m a job oriented person, I agree with her perception too. But what actually made me comment was the fact that you have actually replied to people’s comments. You are the first person that I have seen who has replied to people’s criticising and encouraging comments. Thanks for that! Otherwise I was thinking to write a blog on how you blog writers don’t respond to comments :pRecommend

  • Syeda Zunaira Zubair

    @Ghausia:
    I totally agree to point 8. I love to write too. But my mother thinks that I can make better amount of money with Economics and Statistics. And since I’m a job oriented person, I agree with her perception too. But what actually made me comment was the fact that you have actually replied to people’s comments. You are the first person that I have seen who has replied to people’s criticising and encouraging comments. Thanks for that! Otherwise I was thinking to write a blog on how you blog writers don’t respond to comments :pRecommend

  • Humanity

    Ghausia wrote “..he’s as overrated as Paulo Coelho by my book so not the best example. :D”

    The strength of a writer comes foremost from conviction graced with humility, which is what imparts a soul to his/her creation. Otherwise, the underlying insecurities and self doubts are exposed by arrogance. The outcome, then is a high in form shallow in substance mambo jumbo of fancy words!Recommend

  • A reader from the world

    I really appreciate your passion for what you do.

    I do believe that there is nothing more gratifying than when you write and edit yourself to the point of saturation; actually giving birth to something another can appreciate or learn from. I also think there is nothing more de-motivating than when someone tells you they didn’t like what you wrote. Nothing else pushes you to do better like that does. Writers are sensitive beings but also the most resilient.

    I for one, cannot rid my curse, where I just have to write when I have to. Cant be anything but.
    More power to you for your focus.
    Happy writing.Recommend

  • Amna Mela

    Paulo Coelho and Khaled Hosseini….apples and oranges.Recommend

  • http://bakedsunshine.wordpress.com/ Shumaila

    I don’t really like Hosseini. His books are predictable and very Hollywood-sounding like. The second half of The Kite Runner was pretty lame – Karma is never that accurate. Though a Thousand Splendid Suns was better.

    Paulo Coelho however, has similar themes running through all his books, but they have a gentle touching inner strength in each of them, with a moral that is left to us to find and quiet inspiration in the simple characters and storylines. Hence i love.

    And this isn`t really the right place for this discussion but i couldn’t resist :DRecommend

  • Samir Butt

    A good read! Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    @Syeda Zunaira Zubair:
    lol thanks, and hey, a lot of people do reply back to comments, even if its just one comment acknowledging people’s appreciation and/or indignation. I just do it a lot more because I’m a pretty farigh person, plus I spend too much time on the interwebs. :D

    @Humanity erm, I’m pretty sure you’re snarking at me, so…I suppose you’re one of those people who have an issue with the things I say here, because I don’t see how having an opinion about a writer equates to being arrogant. And there’s a huge difference between being confident in your own skills, and being arrogant. :)

    @Amna and Shumaila, I can’t stand either of the two. I found the Kite-Runner to be ridiculously indulgent, and Paulo Coelho, talentless hack. Seems to me that he himself doesn’t know what he’s writing about. I’ve read much better writers, why they’re so gushed over is beyond me. Shumaila, should I create a separate blog post on my personal blog just for us to discuss Paulo Coelho? :DRecommend

  • Anam Ashraf Ali

    Cool article… I feel it. I wear specs and do lot of ‘unwanted favors’ for my friends =D. Btw be glad your parents nurtured your talent. My dad steered me into ‘system engineering’ for him art and writing is a ‘fever’ if you get what I mean. But still I would any day ditch my programming books for a good hour read or write. Recommend

  • Aamna Saiyid

    I think many people can identify with No. 8, thanks for bringing it up.Recommend

  • Humanity

    @Ghuasia, it is not good to jump to conclusions :) Why do you suppose I am one of those people who have an issue with the things you say here? Just because I some times tend not to agree with what you say does not mean I have issue with every thing you say on this forum.

    This post left me with a over powering taste of I, me, my, mine. The follow up remarks only validated the impression. The love for one’s craft must never be confused with the love for one’s self. That humility comes across crystal clear in Paulo Coelho’s creations. That he makes it greater than him work is why his words are revered all across the world. Because one does not understand his work does not mean his work is overrated. One often tends to draw such conclusions while grappling with the meaning of master pieces.

    Your posts are good to read. The skill of writing for others by letting go excessive ego is a timeless tip that works it magic without fail. Look forward to more of your words here and elsewhere. All power to you. God bless!Recommend

  • Humanity

    Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity
    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/lang/eng/elizabethgilberton_genius.html

    “Ole to you for your stubbornness for keep showing up!”

    ET moderators it would be nice to not have the comments languish in the censor queue for over 16 hours only to be deleted:(

    Please publish my comments without delay. Thank you.Recommend

  • Sana Naseer Shaikh

    Well written but for good writing you analysis yourself and the real situation. There are so many writer who were doing there job very well as a practitioners but they just live in a dream world not in reality. For solving the issues & problems must need to be analysis the situation & their facts & figures. We can easily write on different blog & giving comments on it what we doing for the mass in real world. It’s a long term discussion. Here, I just want describe valuable writing skills which are often use in our daily routine.

    Persuade conversation, reciprocal perceptive, compassion and collaboration.
    Encourage peaceful and diplomatic means to resolve argument and relieve tension.
    Convey constructive self-analysis.
    Good writing is clear thinking made in evidence
    Have one major point. Make it strong and clear, make your point in the first or second paragraph.
    Use the rest of the piece of writing to make the case for your point, giving confirmation reasons, elements, illustrations, anecdotes, speech marks and fact.
    Although op-eds are opinions, they should still do your best for brownie. Try to give a realistic enlightenment for the other point of view or allow for different interpretations.
    Highlight positive experiences between communities and nations that humanise the other and offer hope.
    Drive out tradition and negative stereotypes.
    Highlight organizations and people working for a better regional environment.
    Build reliance and reciprocated esteem.
    Provide beneficial, solution-oriented perspectives.
    In attendance information and analyses in ways that encourage balanced and affirmative accepted wisdom.
    Model a form of writing that is productive, not aggressive.
    Write in a journalistic, not an academic approach.
    Check all of your facts & keep in short having logic in it.
    Present original judgment and insights.Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    @Humanity:
    Geez why do so many people here think I have a big ego? I’ve suffered from crippling self-doubt and insecurities my whole life, where you guys get the idea of arrogance is beyond me. Its cool though, I don’t mind. :) I think you are under the impression that I’m criticizing Coelho because I think only I’m a good writer, and no one else. Plain and simple, I’ve read a lot, I don’t like his works, I don’t like his writing style. I think I do have the freedom to have opinions about things. Sorry you think I’m too stupid to understand the depth in his works, one thing’s for sure, I’m not really the brightest crayon in the box so maybe you’re right. :) And lastly, the title was ten things I hate about writing, so yes, I, me, my, myself, it should be obvious from the title that I’m giving my opinion. Thanks for the feedback anyway. :)Recommend

  • DSK

    I don’t care how mean it is, it’s true; teachers that told you anyone could write were only trying to encourage you to work hard and pass English. <— iLike.Recommend

  • http://abbasiworld.blogspot.com Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi

    Good piece of writing and I agree with most of your points. Being an aspiring writer myself I can understand how difficult it is to let people know how and why a sudden turn in story came or why a character is so similar to someone you know. Story is a story and it is because of the experiences we have in life and the ideas we dream up. Sometimes the ideas simply pop into our heads and we find ourselves powerless, seeing our hand zooming upon the paper jotting down everything at lightning speed with our mind wondering where the story leads even though our hand exactly knows what it is writing. It’s is pretty confusing time when you are completely cut off from the world and simply writing away with no end in sight.
    And I highly agree with writing favors. Even sometimes people with whom you haven’t even had a text message in several years suddenly call you up and ask for your help for an assignment/article (they simply give you topic, a deadline of max 24 hours and good luck) you find yourself too polite to refuse. At times like these I myself scratch my head and think where I got myself tangled in, but I guess that’s the life :)
    And don’t worry about C grade in Maam Jacqueline’s course. She really is favorite student of Mr. Butt and hard to impress anyway :)Recommend