Why You Have To Be A Bit Crazy If You Ever Want To Become A Writer

by Katie Wilhelm
Columbia Pictures

I always knew I was going to be a writer. It's hard to explain how and when I knew for sure that I was destined for this lifestyle, but something inside me has always compelled me to write.

My teachers knew it, too. They were always encouraging me to write more and extend my vocabulary, in order to make my sentences sound like music. I was hooked on writing, scratching down anything from baking recipes to lines from commercials that I liked. I was at a very young age when my love affair with words began.

Something all writers have in common is a love of words. We fall in love with sentences the same way a baseball coach falls in love with a seamless triple play or a dancer falls in love with a perfectly choreographed routine. When I hear a word, phrase or paragraph that I like, I will read it to death until I have it memorized.

I even conspire ways to print it out and frame it, just so I can stare at it on my wall whenever I please. I'll rewind the television during shows or screenshot the rare, inspirational Snapchats of street art that I receive.

It's a secret kind of crazy. No one really knows how nutty some of us writers are, or the lengths we will go to in order to capture a perfectly written moment.

With this love of words that we all so fervently possess comes the utter pain of necessity. There is a fire that burns deep within my writer's soul that absolutely requires me to find a way to remember that combination of words that fleetingly crossed my mind, or the amazing alliteration I just overheard someone nonchalantly drop into conversation at the coffee shop. It's a yearning that only other writers can truly understand.

The worst part about writing (besides writer's block, obviously) is not having the time to write. Unless you're a professional writer who is able to make writing your number one priority, disciplining yourself to sit down and dedicate time to the craft can be tricky, especially when there are so many other aspects of life that need to be taken care of. I become irritable when I have so many ideas brewing inside my head that I just don't have the time to put on paper.

Being a writer also signifies a heightened sense of awareness. I am always listening to the world around me, keeping my ears open to noise that will inspire me. I am always watching the world around me from both my physical eyes, as well as from my greatest weapon as a writer: my mind's eye.

When my eyes aren't open, I am dreaming about the world around me and concocting different ways to make it more beautiful. Because that's one of the main things we do as writers: We make the world a more beautiful place.

I can find beauty in disgust. I can find beauty in the aesthetically unpleasing, and I can most certainly find beauty in pain. It's a strange feeling when one of your friends comes to you crying in hysterics, but you can't help but narrate the dramatic scene in your head. You create metaphors for tears and similes for the way your friend clings to you for dear life.

I don't do this to be insensitive. In fact, I think it increases the sensitivity of the moment. But as a writer, I just can't help doing it.

Writing can frustrate me beyond belief sometimes. It can take me hours to think of the right word.

As Mark Twain once said,

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

In my head, if I don't use the proper word, the whole sentence is ruined. That will wreck the whole piece for me.

You have to use the perfect word because particular words can really impact your readers. A great sentence resonates with people, and it especially resonates with other writers.

It makes me feel on top of the world when someone tells me that he or she saves my work to read whenever he or she needs it. There is no greater satisfaction as an artist than having the ability to make an impression on someone.

I love being a writer, but I also detest it at times. I'm extremely sensitive and empathetic. This has its perks.

But more often than not, it turns out to be emotionally exhausting. This makes for some great work, but it takes a toll on my mental health at the same time. I wouldn't trade it for the world, though.

I get to experience life from an incredibly unique perspective. I create ideas and immortalize them. I relate to people from all over the world.

I touch the hearts of my own family and friends through my words. I have the privilege of seeing life from this beautiful lens, and it's shaped by my personal observations of the world.

Having the ability to put my feelings into words is truly a skill. So many people have absolutely no idea how to translate their emotions into communication. As a writer, I feel it is my duty to be the voice of the people who don't know how to make theirs heard. Finding the words to perfectly match a situation is a great accomplishment.

Being a writer is truly a gift I have been granted. Although it can be time-consuming, mind-consuming and life-consuming, writing gives me great purpose in life. Isn't that all we really want in the end?