How Writing is Like Sex

Woman writing in the zone

Some say that writing is like sex. An idea I rather like. And certainly, the euphoric state one can get into when writing makes me believe it.  Anyway, if you don’t think too long or to deep about it (no puns intended), I think one could make the argument that writing is very much like sex. And that argument might go like this:

– You need to be in the mood to get inspired to write.

– While some writers are in the mood to write every day, your mood waxes and wanes.

– When you’re in the writing ‘zone,’ your wild (i.e. subconscious) mind takes over.

– When your wild mind takes over, you keep your hand moving.

– When your hand keeps moving and the writing flows, everything around you drops away.

– When everything around you drops away, you forget about eating, drinking, sleeping.

– When you can’t forget you’re hungry, thirsty or tired, you’re probably faking it…


My Guilty Pleasure

Yes, I have one. A guilty pleasure, that is.

It’s mysteries. Now, I don’t write them, but I read them more often than not. I love ‘em, okay? I love their simple complexity. For one thing, a good mystery has engaging characters, and for another, it has built-in conflict. Character and conflict – the basis of all of good writing. What’s not to like?

Speaking of good writing….I know a wannabe writer or two who is very curious about how famous writers write. They wonder, should they lie bed with their computer on their stomachs while they write (like Woody Allen) ? Stand up and write, use only parchment paper…. You get the idea.

Of course it doesn’t matter how you write or where you write, as long as you do. Moreover, as Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind, says you should set a schedule to write, even if it’s just 15 minutes twice a week. Good or bad writing, just sit down and write something. Which I’m sorry to say, Natalie, I’ve tried, but I just can’t do. I need a bit of inspiration, which many writers scorn.

Well scorn away, it’s what works for me. In fact, if I try to sit down and do some “free writing” I’m apt do this instead:

First, clean the bathroom using a Green cleaning solution, and then wonder if I’m really disinfecting anything.

Second, do laundry. All of it.

Third, watch Chopped, Hardcore Pawn, the mystery DVDs from the library….

Fourth, the most important thing I do, I eventually put down the mystery, and read a book of short stories. Without reading stories, I might never write one. After all, where would I get my inspiration? Plus, I’ve learned how to write stories from reading stories.

My problem is I can read fifty stories and not one of them inspires a word. Then suddenly, the fifty-first story clicks: it’s tone, characters, its narrative voice, who knows what does it, I simply can’t explain the inner rush I feel. It’s not that I’m not curious why it works, but when the “click” happens, when the rush feels ready to implode, I don’t delay. I just say, ‘thank you’ and head to the nearest writing instrument…..


Everyone has their favorite authors. These are some of mine: Anything by Aimee Bender, Amy Bloom, Raymond Carver, Molly Giles, Lydia Davis, Lorrie Moore, Ellen Gilchrist, Leonard Michaels, Mary Gaitskill, Jennifer Haigh, Marian Thurm, Miranda July (notice all the M names! – what’s up with that?), among many others. With the resurgence of the short story, there are so many from which to choose.

Why I’m Reluctant

Writing this blog, not to mention creating my website, has been a harrowing labor of ….. are you waiting for me to say “love…”?

Well, I confess: I hate this.

I hate this: Because I’m a fiction writer expending energy NOT writing a piece of fiction.

I hate this: Because I’m an introvert – meaning I process everything internally, I am NOT outgoing and am definitely NOT the life of the party. It also means it doesn’t come easy for me to share my life, my thoughts or my writing process.

Last but not least, because for this writer of fiction, it’s not easy to write non-fiction.

Yet here I am.

Me Being Reluctant

S.J.Powers; writer; short stories; New Millennium

Next post: My writing process