Tuesday, April 23

Chuck Wendig On Fairy Dross And Pegasus Dreams

Chuck Wendig On Fairy Dross And Pegasus Dreams

Chuck Wendig has written another post about writing, the kind that makes me want to spring up from my computer chair, punch the air a few times and, in a voice crackly with disuse, declare, "I love being a writer."

Of course, results may differ.

Chuck's post came as a response to J. Robert Lennon who had objected to the oft given piece of advice to put ones butt in a chair and write.

Though Chuck Wendig admits that this "isn't a particularly stunning piece of writing advice in the sense that it fails to teach you how to write" he thinks it's true. He writes:
What I’m saying is, the creative process is alarmingly internal. A great deal of it goes on up in our — *taps forehead* — brain-gourds, stirring around in a great bubbly froth. It’s imaginary. It’s intellectual. It’s ephemeral, if we let it be. It’s fairy dross and pegasus dreams, man. The only way to take what is imaginary and make it a reality is to put your ass in the chair and write.
I found that inspiring.

I've been writing every day--well, at least 6 days a week--and putting my work out there and it can be brutal. Often when I'm writing it's like I have a voice (sometimes it feels more like a chorus) that tells me the best thing I could do for the world would be to put down the pen. Now!

But I ignore that voice and each time it gets easier to ignore.

Except when it doesn't.

But I still write.

So that's my long winded way of saying that Chuck's post was like a warm smelly hug from the strange uncle after a particularly terrible day at school. Very welcome and comforting yet slightly disturbing.

(BTW, I mean that in the best possible way. In case you haven't guessed, although I've never had the pleasure of meeting him, I admire Chuck Wendig as a writer.)

Anyhow, the following quotation is longer than I usually feel comfortable posting but it's so great I have to share it with you, or you can just go to Chuck's post and read the whole thing. (And you should!)

Ready? (Oh, and the following has swearing in it, so be warned.) This is the bit I'm going to print off and put on my wall, above my writing desk:
It’s work. It’s not always pleasant work. Sometimes it invokes a deep, almost psychic pain — an anxiety that blooms into an acid-spitting flower corrosive to confidence and craft. And yet, the words are the words. They only matter when they manifest. And you’re the magician that summons them into existence — their manifestation is on you and you alone. Nobody said it would be easy. Nobody’s saying you have to write thousands of words per day. You write what you can write. But that verb is still in place: write. Whether you write ten words or ten-thousand, they still involve you taking off your pants, setting your coffee onto its coaster, petting your spirit animal, then sitting your ass into the chair and squeezing words from your fingertips until you collapse, unable to do any more. It doesn’t matter if it’s good. Not now.

It only matters that it’s done.

Put your ass in the chair.

No, that doesn’t tell you how to write.

But it does tell you where it begins and where it ends: with you. You are a character with agency. You are a god in this world. Creativity is a worthless state of being without the verb that triggers it: to create. Creativity is the match. You still need to strike it and light the fire.

You can’t just always bully your way through a story, true. A great deal of writing remains in the head. And it comes with patience. And craft. And with your burgeoning intuition. Just the same, the end result of writing is the written word.

And the words only get written when you fucking write them. 
Want to read some of Chuck Wendig's work? Here's a link to some of his short fiction and here's a link to the first chapter of his upcoming book Unclean Spirits (May 7, 2013). By the way, the book can be pre-ordered over at Amazon for $6.66. Nothing ominous about that. Nope. ;)

Other articles you might like:

- How To Write A Critique: The Sandwich Method
- What Slush Pile Readers Look For In A Story
- How To Create A Villain Your Readers Will Love To Hate

Photo link: "Good Morning Bengaluru [Explored]" by NJ.. under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.


  1. I do SO much better when I write daily. Despite this, I often let life get in the way. I really need to be more consistent about it.

    Rinelle Grey

  2. The other day I was writing a scene in my notebook, and I stopped in the middle of a sentence with the stunning realization of what a weird thing I was doing. I was making stuff up. Stuff that didn't exist before I thought of it. And these words I was in the middle of writing were creating these new, completely unreal things that now existed outside my head. In my notebook. So other people might see them. Weird.

    1. (grin) Yea. That's it. The strangeness and the beauty.


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