The Truth About Writers

June 30, 2009

Posted by Nick Sarno

Written by J. Robert Lennon for The Los Angeles Times:

Ask a writer what she values most in her creative life, and she is likely to respond, “Time to write.” Not many of us have the luxury of writing full- time; we have spouses, families, day jobs. To the people closest to the writer, “writing time” may seem like so much self-indulgence: Why should we get to sit around thinking all day? Normal people don’t require hour after continuous hour of solitude and silence. Normal people can be flexible.

And yet, we writers tell our friends and children, there is nothing more sacrosanct, more vital to our intellectual and emotional well-being, than writing time. But we writers have a secret.

We don’t spend much time writing.

There. It’s out. Writers, by and large, do not do a great deal of writing. We may devote a large number of hours per day to writing, yes, but very little of that time is spent typing the words of a poem, essay or story into a computer or scribbling them onto a piece of paper.

Recently, I timed myself during a typical four-hour “writing” session, in order to determine how many minutes I spend writing. The answer: 33. That’s how long it took to type four pages of narrative and dialogue for my novel-in-progress, much of which will eventually end up discarded.

Let’s assume that this was an unusually brisk day. Let’s estimate that, in general, I spend between 30 minutes and an hour writing, on days when I’m writing at all. What this means is that, even at my absolute peak of productivity, I am actively writing less than 5% of the time. Considering how many days of the year I don’t write at all (most weekends, all holidays, teaching days, sick days, days of self-doubt, hangover days, bill-paying days), I could easily revise that figure down to 2%.

Should such a person, a person for whom writing consumes 2% of his life, even be called a “writer”? Given this logic, here are some of names by which I might more legitimately be referred:



bus rider

naked girl imaginer

child reprimander



Read the rest here.


4 Responses to “The Truth About Writers”

  1. tania Says:

    i too am a naked girl imaginer: every day, and while doing other things. unfortunately i work at a restaurant.

  2. urbesque Says:

    That’s okay. Girls come into restaurants. I’m sure you could picture them naked while you work.

    And then, when you get home, you can focus more on your writing, having gotten your naked girl imagining out of the way. And on the company dime, too.


  3. tania Says:

    i have a manuscript called “Naked Girls.” would you take a look? it’s very good. it’s my 8th manuscript already.

  4. “I know normal is a cycle on the washing machine.” Nat Cox on a ‘good’ day…

    all that ‘other stuff’ just fuel, raw materials afloating…

    “naked girls” –the stuff of fantasies

    as for me–not so random–narrow down to one objecct of ‘desire’ but the still the same thing..mmm..

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