Writing Elves

Neil Gaiman once spoke about magical writing elves that appear in the night while an author sleeps. These are elves who miraculously finish the manuscript that author is working on. Most struggling writers want to believe in that myth. As you’re stuck in word-count hell, or choosing to murder your main character in a final act of plotless desperation, the idea that maybe someone else can just finish the story is as appealing as Santa delivering toys and placing the “Good” stamp on your brow.

But here’s the truth.

They don’t exist. (The elves, that is.)

Believing in writing elves is the difference between a writer and a wannabe writer. There is no such thing as a “wannabe.” If you want to do it, then do it. Sitting around and dreaming about it, hoping for it, or sulking in a corner wishing you were invited to the party won’t get you anywhere.

The elves aren’t coming. You want to write? Then write. You have a story? Tell it.

Make a choice. Right now. Right here.

BE a writer. Don’t dream of being one.

Because even though the elves aren’t real, here’s something Neil forgot to mention.

When you stop believeing in them, when you actually sit down and write, when you plod though your story and listen to your characters, something else happens. Something that keeps you up at night. That wakes you at 3 AM whispering in your ear. That forces you to grab a scrap of paper and scrawl down an idea. Or a line. Or a name.

You might think those are the elusive elves helping you along, but don’t fall into that trap.

It isn’t the elves. It’s something much more powerful. More magical.

It is you.

Welcome to the party.

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3 replies

  1. I love this post. I also felt really guilty when reading it, because I am constantly distracted by things that I end up doing instead of writing–right now, for example, I’m reading blogs instead of writing! Ack. I find it hard to sit down and write, but once I start, I can’t stop. If only I could convince myself to sit down more 😀

  2. Thanks Michelle! Good luck in your writing!

  3. Love your blog, Adina! I am also guilty of distraction and elf believing, though I always prefer to think of it as percolating ;D.

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