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I’m Weary of Writerly Whining



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I sat down this morning to write about how tired I am of the whining of writers. I’m so tired of hearing us complain about how we’re too busy or too depressed or too scared or too uneducated or too . . . whatever . . . to get our work done. Because I am, I am weary of our whining.  I’m weary of my own whining.

But then, I read this amazing letter from “Sugar” (AKA Cheryl Strayed) to Ellen Bassist, and well, I figured it was better for you just to read it yourself.

If you are a writer, if you want to call yourself a writer, if you’ve ever whined (as most of us have) that we don’t have enough talent or enough permission or enough respect to write, READ THIS!!!  I think you’ll find yourself, as I did in Bassist’s letter, and I hope you will heed Sugar’s advice:

We get the work done on the ground level. And the kindest thing I can do for you is to tell you to get your ass on the floor. I know it’s hard to write, darling. But it’s harder not to. The only way you’ll find out if you “have it in you” is to get to work and see if you do. The only way to override your “limitations, insecurities, jealousies, and ineptitude” is to produce. You have limitations. You are in some ways inept. This is true of every writer, and it’s especially true of writers who are 26. You will feel insecure and jealous. How much power you give those feelings is entirely up to you.

Mostly, I hope you’ll write like a motherfucker because we don’t need to hear more whining; we need to hear what you really have to say when you hit the floor and put the pen to the page.

What do you take away from Cheryl Strayed’s letter?


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Author: Andi

I'm a writer, teacher, and editor who is currently working on a book about the slaves who lived and worked on the farm where I now live. I blog daily at I have three cats - Oscar, Emily and Charlotte - who have taken to living on the farm quite well - bird-, frog-, and butterfly-hunters all.


  1. yes! This could be applied to so many things. Write, take photos, paint, dance – whatever your heart is telling you to do. If you are living life, there will always be something. Right now, I have a child asking for breakfast, a sinus infection, a sick dad 600+ miles away. These are the things that make up life and life experience give writers fuel.
    kirsten lablanc recently posted…2012 The Year I Wrote This One Handed, with a Preschooler on my LapMy Profile

    • Yes, we all have challenges – sometimes they are harder and nearly impossible – but we put our heads down and do it. . . even when it’s really hard.

  2. Yes! I have the mug, love the Sugar column. Strayed has received some negative reviews of Wild, her memoir, for taking “too long” to get over the loss of her mother, for taking sexual risks, for …whining about her life. I am sick, sick, sick of it. Memoirs have complaining and whining in them. Who wants to read about a rosy wonderful life with no problems? Not me. Makes me too jealous. ;-)

    I guess what I mean is that it’s okay to “whine” if you write it well; not okay to hold yourself back from your passion because there are obstacles to overcome. Like your own whining.

    Have a good day! ;-)
    Linda C. Wisniewski recently posted…Kat’s Tales – first in a seriesMy Profile

    • Linda – absolutely love this – “it’s okay to ‘whine’if you write it well; not okay to hold yourself back from your passion because there are obstacles.” So well said. . . and I haven’t read Wild yet, but this column makes me want to even more.

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this! Like many (most?) writers, I whine too much. I needed this “talking to” today.
    Jan Roberts Culpepper recently posted…WindblownMy Profile

  4. I’m not familiar with C.J. Lyons’ work; however, I sure enjoyed her interview with Jane Friedman.

    I really like Lyons’ philosophy: No Rules, Just Write.
    Joanne Yeck recently posted…Colonial Buckingham: Four Anglican ChurchesMy Profile

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