Can a writer get money, fame, prestige, and power if his work is successful?

Sure, but how many Conroys, Salingers, or Twains will actually emerge from today’s millions of hungry scribes, and can those few produce characters like Tom Wingo, Holden Caulfield or Huck Finn?

Did you know that in the movie industry, writers are treated like an expendable commodity? The producers have the money and the power, and if one writer isn’t the right flavor they just toss their partially licked ice cream cone into the trash, reach into the pocket of their very-skinny Armani jeans, and buy another writer.

Since most of us are bright and determined, and know that spending thousands of hours writing is like adding a drop of water to the ocean, why do we indulge in this lunacy?

There’s something very special about sharing the stories that are miraculously transferred from our minds to the printed page. The act of creating is like giving birth to an alternative reality. It’s no wonder that attempting to edit our creation is often like Sophie’s Choice. We love all our babies, so choosing which to erase can be very difficult.

I just reread Catcher in the Rye for the fourth time. Even now, over sixty years after it was published, Holden is still able to touch my heart. He is the ultimate, naive anti-hero. Don’t give up, I scream silently, as I grip the worn pocketbook. Don’t let the world control you! Be brave! Don’t capitulate! DON’T EVER SELL OUT!

So are we crazy? Of course, but who cares…

If you enjoy being Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy, The Man with a Microphone in his Ear, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, and Skin Dance, a mystery. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

14 thoughts on “ARE WRITERS CRAZY TO SPEND THOUSANDS OF HOURS WRITING? By Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

  1. Hey, Art:
    It’s so refreshing to enter the mind of a psychiatrist for a change. Mine’s full of holes from so much probing. P.S. I’m a crazy writer, too.


  2. The publishers, producers, customers, and other money-holders may hold the power over our income, but ultimately WE hold the power over our passion and drive. If having someone tell me “I don’t like your writing” keeps me from writing and loving what I do, then I have more problems than simply getting the voices in my head to shut up…I’m in the wrong field.
    Keep the faith and write on!


  3. Hi, Dr. Smuckler…thanks for the thoughtful blog…yes, writers tend to write whenever they get the chance…hoping for that emotional breakthrough, that lucky script that will make it through to someone important’s hands, to record a memory, to divulge a love….a million reasons…I toiled as a staff writer and editor at the LA Herald-Examiner for 13 years and I loved every miserable, wonderful, exciting moment of it…some stories were good, more were mediocre due to time restraints but once in a while — sometimes — I had an afternoon of inspiration where everything came together — whether it was an interview or feature — that made me feel like a million bucks! A deadline aint a pretty thing, but it sure forces you to use not only talent but some kind of patience and endurance to pressure that is transferrable to life…my first printed piece was a letter to the editor at the San Pedro News Pilot when I was 13 years old…got hooked then…still think I have that novel in me…Steinbeck, he may be my favorite…congratulations on your books, I know the work and pain it takes to produce and any piece you turn out is always the newest ‘baby.’ I indulged in this ‘lunacy’ because I had the desire to write ‘every day’ and I knew I could do it at a newspaper — the only hope, I fear, for writers these days, are places like the Huffington Post….as, alas, the printed page delivered to your door either in the a.m. or p.m. is almost a thing of the past….but it was a ball and I was Lois Lane and Brenda Starr together for 13 years (and the first woman sports writer in this town)….



  4. I think it’s so much better to write for the joy of it than wanting to succeed as a writer. That way if you never become famous it won’t be so bad on your ego. I learned by reading in many forums how crazy people are about telling people how to set prices. How to format. What to write. If you don’t listen to their craziness they go to your page and give you the worse reviews you will ever have. I say this by experience. I saw all types of people on some forums and they were very mean to me. I learned that I rather just write for the fun of writing. After all I am the author and photographer. I entered self publishing for this same reason. I can write about anything and I don’t have to follow the latest stories going around. I can create my own. I don’t want to be like everyone else. No way.


    1. You have a great attitude. I too have experienced a lot of angry, vicious responders to some of my other posts. Just like in dealing with psychotics, it’s almost impossible to have a reasonable discussion with people who vehemently disagree with you. Sometimes the best solution is just not to engage.


      1. Dealing with fanatics by using reason, which is what we all try to do in our daily lives, is often a total waste of time. Try telling a pro-life person that planned parenthood is a good organization and promoting free choice is a good thing; or a member of the NRA that gun control will save lives; or, and this even MUCH more impossible, a devout religious fanatic to examine his religion. What you often get is a long fruitless argument. But, I have to agree that sometimes it just feels good to vent


  5. No, not anymore than golfers, gym rats, painters, even readers. It’s healthy, creative, pleasurable and tells the world you’re a touch special. In addition, it could put a few coins in your pocket.


  6. I think everyone is crazy. It is just a matter to what degree and what they do about it. Writers at least have the built in therapy that putting thoughts to paper provides. And when they are done others may benefit from reading those rambling pages.


  7. No madder than other people, except we have people in our heads telling us their stories, and alternate realities wanting to be recognised and whole new universes wanting to have their say… not mad at all!


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