Why? Because writers write, rewrite, and then rewrite some more. Once we get “done” with our first draft, we set it aside for a few weeks before we reread the draft. “Hmmmm…,” we think, “this needs some more work.” Then we might start work on a whole new story.
At some point we pull the old story back out of the drawer and ask someone to read it. But the reader might not be a writer, and maybe he’s had a bad day. He might not be in the mood to read about a little girl who has a gross wart on her lip that makes her feel bad, but then the girl finds someone who sees past her trivial physical flaw and loves her anyway. After the person is reluctantly done reading the draft, he might say something like, “It’s pretty good, but what was the deal about her lip?” At which point we decide we need to do a little more rewriting on our story and the cycle continues.
Writers look to other writers for empathy, direction and maybe to procrastinate a little bit. We have always wanted to know how accomplished writers work — what time of day they write, if they use a computer or only handmade paper scrolls, and if they are surrounded by music or silence when they create, etc. etc. We want to know if there is some secret we are missing. We look for one piece of advice that, once given, will make the process easier and more fruitful for ourselves. We think, “Did Hemingway’s sitting in a leather chair make any difference?” Plus, all this reading about writers is a good distraction from actually writing…
Talking about distractions, here is what George Saunders has to say to
aspiring writers: “…think about our ‘natural modes’ in order to infuse our writing with our own unique energy. For example, think about how you are when you’re hanging out drinking in a bar with your friends. Are you a naturally funny person? Then maybe it would be easier for you to write something humorous than to try and force yourself to pen some verbose, elitist, nihilistic manifesto because you think that’s more ‘legitimate’ for some reason. You can’t run from who you are, not your brain, not your inclinations, or your experience. So accept [it] – run toward it, use it.”
Read more about Saunders’ advice here
Or if you’d like to procrastinate from writing even more, here is a list of articles from “Writers on Writing” on the New York Times website.