“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work”
— Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
I do a lot at Wheelhouse, a lot of thinking, a lot of brainstorming, a lot of collaborating and a whole lot of writing, but I don’t consider myself a writer. I consider myself a producer. All the work that goes into getting words on the page, all the revisions, all the edits and all the re-writes are just the steps that need to be taken in order to produce top quality work.
Now, I’m not a fan of Stephen King, and I mean fan in its original connotation as in short for fanatic. A fanatic is someone who is, if you do a quick Google search, “A person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal.” A true fan would be overjoyed with the prospect of camping for days outside a Stephen King book signing just to get his scribbled signature on their greasy copy of Under the Dome. I’m not a fan. I’m more of an appreciator of his work, particularly IT and The Shining. I’ve always liked The Shining because I feel like it represents the horror and frustration that goes on in the mind of a writer when he or she is faced with braving the great, white tundra that stands between them and their idea—the blank page.
IT is the perfect metaphor for lost youth, but there’s a flashback scene in IT with a quote from one of the main characters Bill Denbrough that I’ve always liked. Bill, who’s pretty much a representation of King, is thinking back to his days in college where he challenged his classmates’ and professor’s more literary interpretations and metaphors about the greater purpose of a story by saying, “can’t you guys just let a story be a story?” I like to take that a step further and say: can’t you just write to write? Can’t you just create to create? Why analyze and reanalyze every detail of a story or an idea until the main point or purpose of the idea is completely lost? I’m all about finding the perfect line, or working to produce the best work possible, but sometimes you can get lost in the brainstorm, and the brainstorm loses its power, your creativity loses its spark and you become bogged down in the thinking instead of the creating.
That’s why I’m more than just an appreciator of what King writes, I appreciate the work he puts into his writing. King boasts that he writes roughly 2,000 words a day so that in the course of three months he has about 180,000 words that he considers a “goodish length” for a novel, and here I am struggling to fill this page with 500 words to complete this blog.
You might not be a fan or an appreciator of Stephen King or his writing, but you have to give credit where credit is due, and the one thing King has over other writers is that he knows how to produce. Go to your local bookstore and when you hit the Ks in the fiction section, you’ll see that he has enough titles to fill a small library.
My point is that King’s work ethic can be applied to any aspect of business especially when your business is being creative. It can be easy to get lost in the brainstorm when it comes to generating ideas for yourself or your clients, it can be even easier to get caught up in the dreaded anxiety of having to wait for inspiration to strike, but getting up and going to work, putting in the time, being creative while also being able to handle the stress that goes into producing the best work possible is what being a professional is all about. Sometimes the steps necessary are baby steps and the tedium can get to you, especially when you have a clear cut idea in the front of your mind that excites you so much that you just want to see it leap from your brain onto the page or screen, but that leads me to my final quote from King that I feel summarizes everything I’m trying to say as well as applies to the work creatives do whether its writing, graphic design, marketing or video production, “In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well. Its about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”