Money, Inspiration, Writer’s Block

Joe Torosian

By Joe Torosian

Even someone as (extremely) minor as me gets asked (once in a while) a question. These three are the most common.

Money? Inspiration? Writer’s Block?

Short Answers: No, No & No.

Longer Answers:

Money: I make money, I’m in the black, and I should just leave it there. 

Did I make money as a sportswriter? For what I did—for 21 years—I did alright, but it wasn’t a lot of money. And, at this moment, writing books, I don’t make anything near what I made as a sportswriter. I’m able to pay my costs, and it slowly improves. I do get a check every month, but sometimes those checks will only cover a single visit to Starbucks.

Inspiration: I don’t want to crush anybody…but…I have never woken in the middle of the night, sat down at my desk, and spent the next five hours writing perfect—inspired—copy.

Usually, if an idea pops, I jot it down in a notebook and hope to get to it someday.

Regarding Inspiration, I’m going to mash my thoughts with the thoughts of others.  

Inspiration is not someone you meet at a party on Saturday night and suddenly fall in love with. Inspiration is more like the spouse you see every day.

If I’m home and with my family each night, we have great times, and there is peace.

If I don’t come home—routinely—things turn into a disaster.

Therefore…If I’m at my desk every day when I plan to be, Inspiration meets me there. Then if I faithfully give attention to the job, Inspiration does its thing.

Writer’s Block: Never.

I’m not saying it doesn’t exist. I’m saying it doesn’t happen to me because I can’t afford it. Working for the paper and then the website constantly had me on deadline. I never missed a deadline because it would hurt the bottom line. Being on deadline (emphasis on “dead”) meant you didn’t wait around for Inspiration. Inspired or not, the deadline had to be met. Whether in the hospital or searching for a Kinkos driving through western Montana back in the day—deadline had to be met. 

With every book or short story I’ve published, there were countless times I didn’t feel creativity or excitement. Countless times I wanted to scrap the whole thing. Countless times where my mind was dry and blank, but I still went to my desk and did my job.

I don’t like the term “artist” for a writer (not that I’ve ever been accused of being an “artist”) because it gives the impression that writing is not work. Here’s the deal, if you don’t clock in, nobody else is going to clock in for you. If you don’t churn out your thousand words, you don’t get to call Peterson and say, “Dude, can you cover me and write Week Three? Pomona’s at West El Monte.”

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How you “feel” is irrelevant…Why should someone who writes feel any different than a teacher, construction worker, lawyer, pastor, grocery clerk—you name it. You clock in every day because you can’t afford not to clock in.  

Maybe if I got a bazzilion-dollar book contract, I’d feel pressure and be hit with Writer’s Block…but until then, I simply can’t afford it. 

And if you are just starting and serious about writing, neither can you

***.

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