[su_pullquote]“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.” ― Charles Bukowski, Factotum[/su_pullquote]
There is no doubt in my mind that a writer can achieve some measure of success writing for others. You can write in order to please an audience. Or you can write in order to please a publisher. You can write to please your significant other or your imaginary friend. Your best writing though, will not emerge until you write to please your demon. The spirit that lives inside you. The one that will help you channel everything you are into only one thing: compelling storytelling.
Whatever your story happens to be. You might not even consciously remember writing it. But it will be fucking amazing. The writers that are true to their demons are the writers who can make a career out of it. A career that plays out on the writer’s terms and on the relationship between her demon and the words. You’ve got to be a little possessed to write powerfully. To do it in a way that will make your audience gasp and keep coming back for more.
Do you want to know the secret to becoming a storytelling legend? It’s amazingly simple. Become a story. Live a few dozen adventures. Have some close calls. Take some ill advised risks. Get high. Break a few laws. Hang out with people you would never have considered hanging out with before you decided to be a storyteller. Talk to your demon in the middle of the night or just before the sun rises or just after it sets. Touch, taste, feel, smell, see. A little bit of crazy for each of your senses. That’s the recipe that’s needed.
Then, after, isolate yourself. Like the madman in Stephen King’s The Shining. Get away to a place where all you can hear is the voice of your storytelling demon. Let that creature fill you up and take over your being. That’s when the story will be born. When it’s just you and the demon alone in a cabin. When all you care about is pouring out the thing that needs to be born. When your fucking cell phone is shut off and you forget to eat. You might piss your pants before the flow stops flowing. It won’t matter. The story comes first. The fingers don’t stop dancing with the keyboard until the story gets told. You don’t leave the cabin until the characters have come to life and been killed off. You go from one end of the arc to the other in a frenzy and you don’t let anything or anyone get in the way.
If the police come to get you before the demon is done you’ll have to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the place you are hiding. You’ll find a napkin and something sharp and you’ll keep telling the story with your own blood as the ink if that is what becomes necessary to get it into the world. If you’re going to try, as Bukowski recommended, go all the way. Nothing is more important than this. You were born for this. You’re lucky enough to be possessed by the need, the fire, the compulsion to bring something from nothing and pour it out into one of the most important things human beings possess: stories.
You can’t half-ass this thing. Punch your distractions in the face. Isolate yourself. Go crazy and write the story. For yourself. For your demon. Don’t try. Don’t do it for anyone else. If you are doing this for any reason but to quiet your writing demon why are you even bothering? You aren’t really alive. Go do something else. Go get fat and comfortable saying and being all the things somebody else thinks you should say and be. We don’t want you around. My writing demon and I have things to do and you aren’t welcome.