Beyond Creative: The Physicality of Writing


Prose is architecture, not interior decoration – Ernest Hemmingway

Above all else, what I really want to write is fiction. But part of the decision – which recognised immediately that fiction wouldn’t be the bulk of my work – to make the transition to writing full time, was my realisation that what I love about writing goes beyond the creative. I love to create. I love to craft words and weave stories. But I also love the mechanics of writing: the tapping of keys; the rearranging of words; the structuring of an efficient sentence. Admittedly without the endorphins, there’s something about the physical act of writing that satisfies the same physical urge to do as walking or running does. The satisfaction of filling a page with words and having to show, at the end of it, a job well done scratches an itch I wasn’t able to attend to in all my years in education. Certainly that comes with a huge loss – human contact, for example, and the warm glow of knowing that you’ve had a positive impact on a young life – but there’s a satisfaction in completing a writing job that I appreciate beyond creative fulfilment.

The bulk of my work is done digitally. It’s practical, it’s quicker, and it’s immediate. But I do still write by hand, particularly when I’m drafting fiction, a process I find both meditative and creative. I make more mistakes this way, but never is it intended to be the final product, and I often find it sparks something that could not have been sparked at the computer. Indeed, if I’m stuck on something, I often take myself away from the laptop for a while and scrawl out some notes with a pen to get the juices flowing.

I have to take conscious steps to be physically present in the world now that I spend my working day at my computer, but there’s no doubt to me that, in a small way, writing is a physical, albeit low energy, pursuit.