Too Legit to Quit

Writing is one of the best jobs in the world. It’s difficult, but certainly not in the same way that firefighting or Alaskan crab fishing or coal mining is difficult.

Some days I can work in just my boxers, sit on my bed with my laptop, and listen to music while I type away. Amazing, isn’t it?

Sort of. With other jobs, you have to get up early, get dressed, and go to the office. Sounds unappealing, but these dull routines are what make jobs feel real, unlike abstract, wishy-washy writing.

When writing, there is no boss to keep you off of YouTube. And when you are in the writing zone, people sense it and love to barge into your workspace and chat with you. No one else truly recognizes that you work, partially because writing doesn’t look that hard, partially because they cannot see the results of your daily efforts. No writer lasts long if he feels like his work isn’t worthwhile, so he needs to manufacture his own feelings of legitimacy.

Once I moved to New York City, I knew I had to escape my deskless, windowless bedroom. I decided to join a private library in the Upper East Side. Now, I wake up early. I get dressed. I walk ten minutes to the library. Other members there also write. My new routine normalized my job in the best way possible.

Obviously, most people don’t have the luxury of joining a private library, but other options exist. Public libraries are wonderful and allegedly quiet. Coffeehouses are nice for a bit of bustle, as well as buffet restaurants where you don’t have to worry about annoying a server. Parks are nice for pen-and-paper writing or for typing on an AlphaSmart Neo. Churches can be serene and are open many hours of the day. Bank lobbies have chairs, as do hotel lobbies. You could also shove a chair in a closet at home.  Better than the bedroom. Anywhere but the bedroom! Too much of the rest of your life already intersects there.

Once you start leaving early every day to go write, people will begin to comment. “You sure are writing a lot!” Wouldn’t it be amusing if they said that to anyone else? “Geez, Tina you sure are going to your 9 to 5 a lot!” or “Wow, Bill, I’ve noticed you’ve gone to school five times this week. What’s up?”

But you won’t take it personally. The recognition of your hard work will make you feel legitimate. And that one factor will be stronger than any other to keep you from throwing in the towel. You’ll be too legit to quit.

27 thoughts on “Too Legit to Quit

  1. Many people ignore the difficulty of writing. A 500 to 1,000 word blog or paprer isn’t written within minutes. To write well you must do research and thinking outside the box. The plus to writing is how enjoyable it becomes. I rarely get bored when, writing.

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  2. Reblogged this on Exploring Alura and commented:
    I love this person. Whoever is writing this is a person after my own heart. I smiled as I read through this two or three times because it hits so close to home.

    I have been caging myself in my house, my sanctuary, because I was scared of what the world would think of me. I’m not anymore. I’m ready to start walking and talking the life of a writer. I’m ready to be “THAT GIRL” that gets it.

    Thank you for the motivational pep talk. I AM too legit too quit at a REAL WRITER’s life. This dog and pony show has only just begun…

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  3. I certainly got some looks askance when I gave up my day job to write – as though I was being selfish and irresponsible by freeing up an office job for someone who actually needed it! I figure, just because no-one’s paying me to write doesn’t mean it’s any less of a job. And just because a day’s work doesn’t need to be stretched out to fill up eight hours doesn’t mean it’s any less ‘work’.
    Manufacturing feelings of legitimacy – an interesting avenue of thought…

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  4. I still work at another job … I like the diversity and social aspects of it compared to the interior dialogue of writing. Sitting at coffee shops, libraries, and parks may give privacy to ponder while writing, but my jobs, from education to retail to office, provide rich harvests, my way of gathering, filling my literary bank account with character traits, plot ideas, thematic questions, and new phrase rhythms. ‘Tis true, my jobs have been 20 to 35 hours per week, allowing time to follow my muses (and pay for the occasional latte!). Both are better for this writer.

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  5. Abstract, wishy-washy writing is actually more my thing… As a writer I’m not much more than a cat coughing up a fur-ball, but I’m having a great time anyway. 🙂

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  6. Experience has taught me not to tell people I meet for the first time I’m a writer. I´ve spent far too much time listening to them telling me of the book they intend to write, but have yet to get round to. Some of them even suggest it would be a good idea if I wrote it for them. Yeah, like I’m that stuck for ideas.

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  7. I love the idea of a private library. It sounds so like a British men’s or women’s private club that I’ve seen in movies like Out of Africa or Enchanted April. You’re absolutely right about the absence of comments such as “Gee, you’ve gone to work 5 days in a row!” Very perceptive and funny!

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  8. I am honored that you stopped by and want to follow my blog. Ohh! a writer is interested in what little ole me has to say. I am amazed. I wish that I had the skills to write full time. Sitting in a private library, or coffee house and creating, sounds fairy-tale-ish to me. I am not a writer, but I do consider myself an expresser of my inner most thoughts and feelings. Is this the same? I do not know. I laugh as I read some of the comments posted before mine. I find that I probably would be one of those people who would annoy you, if you told me that you are a writer. I have written four books and am trying to figure out how to publish them. Probably will be CreateSpace for me. I think that people just want to connect with you, on some small level. Everyone wants to feel that they belong. If they ask you about their book, or ask you to write for them, feel blessed. This is their way of reaching out and wanting to be special. They see you as being special; after all you are talented, they wish that they could do what you do. Every one has a story to tell. Everyone wants to matter. The next time you get asked, feel grateful. Ask them what their story is. Then tell them that they should write it. It doesn’t matter if they are talented or not. Tell them that everyone should write out their stories. It is their legacy. It will teach them so much about their own lives. If they feel that they should share it, then encourage them to do just that. You are to be their dream weavers, not laugh at them bothering you. You have a talent that they wish they had. You are blessed! Writing is air to a tired soul. It is your job, not only, to breath for yourself, but to show others how to stay alive. Thoughts for today…..Meghan

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  9. Hello, Meghan! Thanks for your comment. I think that if you write, then you are a writer, as opposed to someone who speaks often about writing but does not actually write. You’ve written four books! That takes a great deal of effort. But even people who have written four books, published or not, can feel inadequate at times. Self-doubt plagues writers more than most people, I think. That’s what I tried to touch on in this piece. To ward off self-doubt, I have to manufacture my own feelings of legitimacy. Writing at a private library is my particularly posh way of doing so. But that certainly doesn’t make me better than anyone else. It probably just makes me more annoying! 😉

    I had an interesting encounter once with an aspiring writer. I still can’t decide whether I responded appropriately or not. I met this woman while we were both doing laundry at the same laundromat in college. She asked me my major. I told her “Professional Writing.” She mentioned she was writing a novel. I asked her how she found the whole process, but she turned the question on me, interestingly, asking me how I found it. I told her I thought it was fulfilling but very difficult. She nodded, saying, “Yes, I think it is very difficult as well. I’m probably going to give up.” Here’s where I’m unsure if I did the right thing: I said absolutely nothing to encourage her. I didn’t tell her to keep going. I didn’t tell her it got easier (that would be a lie). I feel ashamed because of it, but at the time I saw her levels of passion as inadequate to overcome the great difficulties of writing. I suspected that she might be one of many individuals out there who finds the idea of writing a novel incredibly interesting but isn’t interested in dealing with the incredibly difficult parts of it. If she found it so unpleasant that she was ready to give up, then I didn’t see any real reason to encourage her. Sure, she could still journal or blog or send letters to friends, but a novel? I didn’t understand the point. But, I still wonder if perhaps a nudge of encouragement would have pushed her onward. She might have just been pleading for a few words of inspiration. I gave her none. Sadly, most writers terminate their own dream, not wanting to learn the hard craft of writing or put in the long, solitary hours. Even the most talented individuals must develop discipline and diligence. Maybe the woman at the laundromat gave up, maybe she didn’t. I don’t know. I never saw her again.

    I totally agree with you on one point: I should be pleased when people bring up what they have written. I’m a terrible conversationalist, and at least they are bringing up something interesting to talk about. There’s no reason to be high and mighty about it. But I still feel uncertain whether I should encourage them to keep on or not. Probably I’ll just tell them what I’ve told you: your levels of passions for what you write need to outweigh the levels of difficulty that you will encounter. It will be a knockout battle either way.

    Well, this has turned out to be quite long-winded. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, Meghan. I enjoyed reading and responding to it.

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  10. This makes me want to sing the Hammer song 🙂 Nice piece here, as are the others I’ve perused. Thanks for writing and for giving me a visit over at my online home…and for the follow!

    Liked by 1 person

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