The Pull



Today I’ve decided to try and tackle a topic that I know will be difficult to describe, but it’s something that I believe all writers feel at some point and therefore no matter how bad of a job I do explaining it, you’ll still know what I’m talking about. Let’s see how this goes.

A question I’ve frequently been asked by my non-writing friends (Muggles) is, when did I know I wanted to be a writer?  I’ve thought about this a lot and I think a better question might be, how did I know I wanted to be a writer? The when is simple, and it actually revolves around two different points in time.  The first was after I received recognition for a short story I wrote for a school project (which was to impress a girl), documented here on this blog numerous times. The second when was 30+ years later after I wrote another short story, this time relating true-life experiences from a memorable trip to the Florida coast during a summer-break from college. I can point to both of those events and say that is when I first had an inkling that writing would be part of who I am, but that doesn’t really tell the inquisitive mind what it wants to know. How did I know?  What signs were there that made me decide to take this hobby seriously, make we want to think of it as a craft and therefore work to improve my mastery of it and strive to become published? The answer to that question was much more difficult to put a finger on, but it boils down to one thing. I call it…the pull.

When I completed both of the short stories I mentioned above, a feeling remained that I had experienced before, but not quite in the same way. It was kind of like the excitement you feel when you really really look forward to something. Maybe it’s the sensation of a movie you’ve been wanting to watch for what seems like forever is about to be released, or the tickle in your stomach the days right before Christmas, or unfettered joy you feel leading up to being reunited with a love interest you’ve been separated from. And the only way to quench that yearning…is to write. I call it the pull because of the way it draws me back, either to a particular piece of work, or a blank piece of paper with nothing but the inkling of an idea to lead me.

What I’ve discovered, however, is that for me the pull isn’t constant. Right after I finish working on a project, whether it be a first draft or a final revision, the pull disappears altogether. It might return quickly to nudge me towards a different manuscript, but I’ve always needed a cooling off period after a major endeavor.  Maybe that’s because I pour so much effort into a project when I’m in the midst of the story, or maybe my creative juices need time to recharge, who knows. But being a writer isn’t always about writing (especially if you’re a plotter – like I am), and I am limited because of my full-time job and responsibilities at home, so not being constantly subjected to the pull isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But I’ll tell you this, I LOVE the feeling of the pull when it’s in full-force and making me crazy. The longer I resist it (which I never purposely do, but life does get in the way), the more and more it will consume my thoughts until there is only one narrative that makes sense – the one where I am writing.

In case you haven’t guessed it by now, I’m in the thralls of the pull right now.  I finished the first draft of my latest and greatest months ago, but now the pull is telling me it’s time to dive into the first revision. I’m stoked!

What about you? Can you relate to this…or am I talking out of the side of my mouth?

21 comments

  1. No, this makes perfect sense. ;)

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    1. Phew! One of the few times I do. :)

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  2. I can relate :) (She says as she stares longingly at her Word document even though she has other work she needs to do...)

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    1. I can relate to your relating. Wait...does that make us relatives? :)

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  3. Your explanation of the pull is very logical. Good Luck with it now, and go deal with the first revision!

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    1. I plan to do just that. I already have plans to turn the 4th of July weekend into a 4-day pseudo writing retreat. :)

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  4. I'm still wondering why I wanted to be an author...
    I can relate to those times when the pull is absent.

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    1. Now I'm sure that would make an interesting story! :)

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  5. Enjoy the pull - while it lasts. I can relate to those moments, both when it is strong and when it disappears. Miss it when its gone . . .

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    1. I know you know. When life gets hectic (or even frantic), its easy to block out the pull, but it never really goes away. It's like an itch you can't scratch, and you're not even sure which part of your body is itching. :)

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  6. Hi Don - well done ... yes I get caught up in working my way through a project - be it a letter, or a blog post .. it's all encompassing .. but always needs to be mulled over, and then pulled again ... there are lean times though - well done, and now on to that revision .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Yes...mulling over is sometimes a writers best tool. :)

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  7. I totally understand. Many a time I've decided to give up this writing lark, but I always find myself drawn back to my desk, the words spilling from me like a waterfall...

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  8. I get "the pull." Editing can sometimes bring "the push," which, occasionally, is greater than "the pull" for awhile. But "the pull" always wins me back.

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    1. Absolutely! And if you have two projects going at once...one needing editing and the other in its infancy...the push-pull forces can be wicked! :)

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  9. Unfortunately, I haven't felt the pull in a long time. I've had 3 projects waiting in the "middle" for the last 4 months and due to various personal situations, can't seem to find the oomph to get me back to them. What's a writer to do?

    The funny thing is, I keep thinking I should just go out and get a "real" job, but that just makes me want to vomit, so I keep turning on my laptop, staring at my screen, and then shutting it down again. I'm hoping to get my act together by July 1. I can't not write anymore.

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    1. I've read about your "personal situations" on your blog, and finding the time to think about writing, much less do any, isn't something that you need to worry about now. If I've learned anything while trying to make my own writing journey turn out the way I hope, its that there is an ebb and flow in both writing and life, and they're not always in sync with one another. Be patient. The worm will turn your way again. :)

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  11. Totally get it. What sucks is my pull was always strongest during uni when I had an exam/paper around the corner. XD

    But even today I get strong needs for proper writing sessions. I've been itching for a weekend at a cabin to write for two days w/o internet for a few months now.

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    1. As it so happens I'm about to scratch my itch with a writing weekend this coming 4th of July weekend. Can't wait! You should do the same. :)

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