Precious: Why Writers Are the Worst About Writing

I hear this a lot: Don’t be precious about your writing. Hold it loosely. So loosely, perhaps, that it slips from your grasp and into the fires of Mordor.

I think when people say “Don’t be precious about your writing” they mean “Don’t be precious about what you have written.” But what about the capacity of most writers to be precious about the act of writing itself?

As a writer, I can be so fucking dramatic sometimes about writing. So much of writing is literally just psyching myself up to write.

I was listening to a podcast episode the other day, and Dan Harmon was talking about how the only time he loved writing was when he was blogging every single day on Myspace (a drunken (?) rant worth listening to in full, starts at 46:55).

I too had a Myspace blog (RIP). And he’s right. It’s addictive. There’s something about writing everyday or writing just to write that gets under your skin, or more accurately, into your bloodstream, bypassing some of your preciousness about the act of writing.

It’s like writing can be this deep, profound thing and it can also just be complete trash. It’s like writing doesn’t have to be something that you suffer and bleed for—it can just be words on a page or screen.

I have a martyr’s complex when it comes to writing, and yes, sometimes you do sacrifice part of yourself, but—

Sometimes you just have to write for the sake of writing. Process be damned. Outcome be damned.

I think when you start to get away from the basic point of writing—which is to communicate an idea or a feeling—you start to go off the rails a bit (is writing like a train? If writing were a form of transportation, what form of transportation would it be? If you were a train, what kind of train would you be?).

I tend towards vulnerability in my writing and I also write about personal things, but I don’t think any other writer’s writing is somehow less risky or vulnerable. To create is to take a risk, to make yourself insanely, desperately exposed to the rest of the world.

I don’t think I like the word “precious” in this context. I prefer “fragile.”

I’m so, so fragile.

But sometime it’s just words.

This is the lie I need to tell myself: None of this matters. No one will read this. No one cares. Nothing will come from this.

You have to hold on and let go at the same time in order to write. It’s a balancing act.

Was I precious about writing about being precious? Maybe.

But sometimes you have to lie to yourself to get to the truth.

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