Is it Really a Calling to Write?

male hand with pen isolated on white background

Nowadays the sheer weight of all the other writers out there – and the fact we can see their presence via the must-have platform building – that gives us much more pressure to either follow our calling to write no matter the gruelling statistics, or to give up.

But we’re not giving up, are we?

There is something to be acknowledged with all the opinions (some of which I’ve quoted from in this series) that we write because we are called to write, and must write. Like a drug habit or bodily function.

But there’s more to it than that.

If this “calling to write” was like a drug addiction, and with all the sheer numbers of writers wanting to find a readership, utilising the same strategies as you, then it would be an addiction that we are better off not having.

Save the pain of rejection, save the waste of time, save the hard work of writing something.

Those of us with any common sense would see the need to wean ourselves from such an addiction, and form better replacement habits – like, say, eating M&M’s.

Yet, the exact opposite happens. Writers are not trying to wean themselves off writing, not trying to form replacement dependencies on something a little more sustainable.

Instead, many writers are looking at ways to embed the writing calling into themselves, to form productivity habits like butt in chair, writing daily, not opening the internet up, all of that.

Just to get the work down.

That doesn’t sound like any calling I’ve known.

When I look at men who have been called to the priesthood, they don’t seem to find doing the tasks of priests (what little I know of them) difficult. (Okay, we won’t go down the whole Monk and Habit thing here). When I look at those who have entered medical professions, they may have to go through difficult and wearying studies and training—for years—but they don’t later suffer from difficulties in showing up at their workplaces every day.

Because they have a calling to do that work.

So why do writers, who supposedly have a similar calling in the need to write, suffer from procrastination, inability to form routine habits, or lack of discipline or motivation?

Most of us would point out now, that those irksome symptoms are part of our creative process, and also shared by other artists in creative fields.

Or more correctly, in professional creative fields – where we have to also consider our business hats. Longer-timers and professional writers don’t heed such issues with their own writing – deadlines and writing projects need to get done. So, they turn up and write anyway.

But JK Rowling admits she felt rushed through writing the last of the Harry Potter books, and Warner Bros have now come out publically to suggest that they are happy with whatever time Jo takes on writing the scripts for the Fantastic Beasts and Quiddich movies they want to run with.  Through associated creative industries, there is a recognition that creative types operate a little differently, need more space for their calling.

My mother was a very good creative herself. She could muster a sewing machine, and weld knitting needles with expert hands. She even took up oil painting in later life. And I never witnessed her ever procrastinating about picking up those needles. But one year she needed a little bit of money, so became a local seamstress, taking on sewing jobs for busy families. And you know what – she suddenly faulted a little on that machine, she procrastinated, and she ummed and ahhed over what she was going to do.

Perhaps we creative career types are not just motivated by a calling to write alone. For me, there are many other factors at work. Tomorrow I’m going to tell you about mine, and the discovery of the real reason why I write.


This post was the fourth in a 7 post series running from this Wednesday to the next. You can find the index post for all from the series here.

Tomorrow’s post is the last, and takes an Indie focus to motivational forces behind my own calling to write.

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