The other day I brought an audio book by Anne Lamott to my day job for a colleague to listen to. Remarking on the author's accessibility through a mix of self-deprecating humor and just saying it like it is, I wondered aloud if Lamott mulls over every turn of phrase or if sometimes the words just come.
The implication was that by virtue of being bestowed with brilliance, authors and poets simply channel their passion to the page. No real striving required. Lamott, herself, disagrees. In her how-to-get-off-your-tuchas-and-write classic, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, she says:
"I know some great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts... Very few writers know where they're going until they've done it."
Or, in the words of Janet Frame:
"In my struggle to get my writing done I realised the fact that the only certainty about writing and trying to be a writer is that it has to be done, not dreamed of or planned and never written, or talked about... but simply written. It's a dreary awful fact that writing is like any other work."
Remember that starting your day staring at a blank screen and surrendering to restless sleep with little to show for it does not make you any less a gifted or 'real' writer. Writing is WORK.