I was going to make this a vlog, in response to my good friend Angi Black’s assertion that Writing is Like Karaoke. While I can see her point, it just struck me funnier that writing is instead a lot more like sex. I tried to record myself doing this bit, but found it impossible to stop giggling.
So instead I’m going to respond to Angi and simultaneously rip off Chuck Wendig’s regular “25 things”-style posts. (Listen, if I’m gonna rip somebody off, you better fucking believe I’m going to rip off someone with talent.)
So without further ado, 25 reasons why writing is like sex:
1) You can do them both naked.
2) Distractions can kill the mood for either of them.
3) When you really get into it, there’s no stopping until you’re done.
4) The process of finding the right partner (or publisher, if you’re a writer) can be long and arduous. But you’ll know when it’s right, because there’ll be passion, chemistry, and caring on both sides.
5) Sometimes you make a wrong move and it kills the mood. In writing, you can write a scene the wrong way and it’ll turn your agent, your publisher, or your fans off. In bed, make the wrong move (What do you mean your name’s not Sheila? Wait, come back!*), and you may end up sleeping on the couch for an extended period of time.
6) When you’re doing it right, there is nothing you’d rather be doing.
7) You can do them both in bed. When my back is hurting me (as it is today), I lie down on my stomach and pound away at the keyboard. Thanks to technology, you can write almost everywhere imaginable. I’ve even written on a plane. That’s a mile-high club of which I’m a proud member.
8) Your brain has to be fully involved for either to be any good. Someone much smarter than me once said that the brain is our bodies’ biggest erogenous zone. If I weren’t sort of lumbering along under a deadline, I’d research who it was and tell you. Writing is the exact same way. Yeah, your fingers and hands get the words down on paper, but it’s your brain that’s firing out all those sexy, sexy words.
9) Writing and sex are best done with your inhibitions turned off. I don’t think I need to explain that one, do I?
10) There are elements of danger to both. With sex, you could wind up with something *ahem* incurable. With writing, you could wind up signing a contract with PublishAmerica — the herpes of the literary world. (If you don’t know why that is, Google search is your friend.)
11) They both require time and effort to do them right. To quote Clarence Carter, “I don’t stop until I know my woman be sassified.” (And right about now, my wife is blushing her pretty little heart out.) But seriously, writing and making love each take time, attention to detail, and the willingness to do it right. And yes, I meant to say “do it.”
12) If you do it, right, they each can produce intense reactions in other people.
13) When you’re finished, you want a nap.
14) Sometimes the parts don’t fit right, and you have to stop, rearrange, and start all over again.
15) Depending on how dirty you feel afterward, you might need a shower.
16) Booze can make them both easier to accomplish, but the end result may require explanations and a walk of shame the next morning.
17) You find someone you like, and you start going with her/him … then you find someone else you like better, and you ditch the first one you liked in favor of the shiny new girl/guy. Writers face that temptation all the time — especially around the 20,000-word mark in their work-in-progress.
18) You proposition the homecoming queen, and she says yes. Depending on where you are as an author, that’s like getting repped by Donald Maas, getting published for the first time, or getting your first six-figure deal.
19) The first time can be (and probably WILL BE) painful. But worth it.
20) You’re always going to be nervous before going to bed with someone for the first time. Maybe you put it off and put it off. Writers do the same thing: Oh, I’m not ready to write that yet. I need to let the idea percolate. I don’t know that I’m up to it. I don’t know that I’m good enough. Only one way to get past those jitters: You eventually have to decide: do I do it? Or do I wonder what might have been?
21) You have a hiding place. Being intimate with another person gives you a place to cling to during a storm. You have a shared bond and a trust with one another. Even if you’re not in love, you have trusted one another with your bodies. Writing is like that. Whatever storms are raging outside the manuscript (debt, bad relationship, grief, etc.), you can plunge into the work and let the waves roll over you for a little while. Sometimes the work makes you feel safe.
I got too serious there for a sec, didn’t I?
22) It puts you in a good mood. Writing and sex both release endorphins. When I write, it makes my day. When I … well, you don’t need to know that.
23) They both require you to engage with others. Unless you want to be J.D. Salinger and keep all those beautiful words to yourself, the end result of writing should be publishing. Otherwise it’s just masturbation.
24) They’re both worlds and worlds of fun.
25) If you time it just right, nail down the details (heh, I said “nail”), and are very lucky, sex and writing can each give you something beautiful. I got the most adorable kid in the entire world. A writer gets a book. They’re both precious gifts.
*This may or may not have happened to me. I’ll never tell.