“For me writing is like breathing,” the poet Pablo Neruda told the Paris Review in 1971. “I could not live without breathing and I could not live without writing.” For me, writing is less like breathing and more like flatulence. It comes in bursts and adheres to no schedule, and if I try to force it, bad things come about.
Neruda’s quote has always made me envious to the point of agita. I am cursed with a far different disposition. If my respiratory system worked with the zeal and commitment to which I approach writing, I would have suffocated long ago.
Thankfully, I am not alone. For every Pablo Neruda, there are dozens of farters like me. This is purely anecdotal, but all the writers I know express similar frustrations. Writing is not an autonomic function of the subconscious brain. When the time comes to put words on the page, it is work.