There are as many kinds of writer out there as there are writers themselves, but for reasons I cannot quite put my finger on I have tried to create a system to categorise them. I do this in the full knowledge that we all lie somewhere on a Venn diagram made of soup and mist, and that we will shift across its roiling surface from day to day, minute to minute, few of us ever settling at any point within the complex matrix.
The categories I put forward are as follows:
Water Around the Stone: Wise man say, “Be like water around the stone, not the stone in water.” This is a rare and blessed state to find oneself in. When the planets align and the wind is just right and all the universes find a moment of perfect balance, the writer is in a very fine place indeed. They flow, unimpeded towards their destination. Slick prose drips from the fingertips like honey and the keyboard hums under fingers that caress it with a lover’s ease. The backspace key develops a form of autophobia; a fear of being alone or ignored, but the writer cares not for that obsolete relic above the return key. Here on their heady mountain top the view is only forward, never back.
Some writers spend most of their careers in this zone. They are universally despised by all others.
The Stone in Water: (See above) This stubborn soul wants to finish this chapter with a flourish and by jingo, they’re not writing another word beyond it until they have done. When not chewing on their bloodied knuckles they will stare at the screen for hours, focusing on nothing as though the answer will be revealed as from one of those magic-eye pictures from the 1990’s. IT’S A DOLPHIN! They might scroll through the endless inanity of Facebook, Tweet about their cat, cut that ragged nail that has been plaguing them because that should certainly bring about the inspiration needed. I mean, they could come back to this bit later, and get on with the plot in the meantime, but that right there is ‘quitter talk’ and they weren’t raised to be no quitter!
Any moment now. Any…moment…ooo, a compilation of funny Tiktoks!
The Jigsaw Writer: A complex creature who struggles to hold a single point within the narrative for more than a few sentences. Thinking of a witty remark for the protagonist to make in chapter 17, whilst building the character in chapter 2 is no problem to the Jigsaw Writer. They have a system of notes and a meticulous timeline plotted out before them, oh yes they do, and the post-its, pages, scrawls and scribbles on their desk and walls are in no way a sign of a burgeoning insanity and nothing like the squalid bedsits of conspiracy theorists and serial killers, no!
It’s a system!
The Grinder: Not the dating app, the writer. This brave individual moves forward, but in the same way that a glacier jogs down the hill. Agonising words are drawn out so slowly that time itself wants to run backwards, straining the fabric of reality. If you have ever experienced a sense of time dragging, then likely as not there is a ‘Grinder’ at a keyboard in your vicinity, forming a dimple in space-time. Out of every three words written, two are deleted. The backspace key is so worn that it now reads ‘Ba ce’ but we’re making progress, aren’t we? Another coffee should help because if there is one thing a caffeine-raddled brain needs, it’s another kick in the prefrontal cortex with a Columbian boot.
With enough coffee or Pinot Grigio, a Grinder can quickly become…
The Boris: Blundering on, full of misplaced confidence and leaving carnage in their wake. This writer can produce 10,000 words of gibberish in a single sitting, certain that theirs will be hailed as the next great work of literature. Caffeine and alcohol can make a writer feel like ‘Water around the Stone’ and for a time, they soar, but like all substance-induced highs there is a price to pay, and the bill is in the post. The resulting hangover is best treated with a healthy serving of humble pie. All writers have ‘Borissed’ from time to time and the best of us are able to repair the damage. For others, only the skilled hand of a competent editor can save the day.
So, there we have it, submitted for peer-review. Let me know if I’ve missed you out.