Why Writing is Like Fight Club

If you were to die right now how would you feel about your life?" says Tyler Durden.

"I don't know! I wouldn't feel anything good about my life!" says the Narrator.

... ... ... ... ... ... ...

"Stop trying to control everything and just. let. go. LET GO!" says Tyler Durden.

Watch the scene here.

... ... ... ... ... ... ...

If you are one of those who feel the desperate urge to get out of your head what needs to be written, there is a process you likely have gone through that is very similar to the plot in the movie Fight Club.

This cult film was a response to the consumer-driven, fit-into-a-nice-niche, do-what-is-expected-of-you mentality from the 1990s. The main character "The Narrator" also known as Jack, white-color, Ikea-addict, insurance claim adjuster, meets Tyler Durden, with his red leather jacket, cool shades, spikey hair, and anarchist Zen-like philosophy.  The Narrator then goes through a metamorphosis as he drops the shackles of society  when he and Tyler Durden start a counter-culture movement made up of young men seething with anger about conforming to expectations, and Fight Club is formed.

I was struck by the parallels of my journey as a writer to that of The Narrator when I recalled today one of the many memorable scenes in this movie mentioned above where Tyler Durden tells Jack to let go. Here are the reasons why I think writing is like Fight Club:

Begin By Following Rules

When you first start out writing, you read lots of books or takes lots of classes that show you "how" to write. You try to do what is right by following the rules, fitting in, doing the exercises, and sometimes copying what other writers do. We all have to start here. This is where Jack is at the beginning of the movie. He is following the rules and doing what is expected of him: he has a condo, a job, and orders furniture from Ikea.

Get Stuck

After following the rules, you enter a period where you wonder what the hell you are doing and you want to stop writing. You simultaneously hate writing but need to keep doing it. Those who can't stop, notice that following the rules feels wrong. Jack begins to experience insomnia and realizes that he hates his life.

Break the Rules

You become rebellious in you writing and purposefully write imcomplete sentences. Or you use too many exclamation marks. You may even write exactly what you are thinking, which feels dangerous. And you love it. You reach out to the writing communiting and meet other rebels like yourself. Jack meets Tyler Durden. Tyler tells Jack to hit him as hard as he can, and Jack does.

Hit the Bottom

You keep breaking the rules. You go to writer's conferences and meet more and more rebellious writers like yourself. It begins to spiral out of control and consumes your life. All you think about is writing. All you do is write. It gets bigger and bigger. Tyler and Jack form Fight Club then turn it into a cult with other dudes who end up trashing corporate America.

Just Let Go

As you feed your obsession to write what is in your heart and soul, you also want it to stop because you are afraid of loosing control. You think if you let it get too big it will eat you alive. You think your writing sucks, and you may even get tons of rejections from those who hold the ticket to your self-esteem. You want it all to stop. Then, when you are about to give up, you give in, and crash. Jack's developed a "relationship" with Marla, who he meets at a support group, but Tyler continues to pull Jack into Project Mayhem. Tyler and Jack confront each other in the car scene and "let go" as the car careens into a ditch.

Experience Magic

You start to write from another place. Inspiration and ideas flow through you. You are just the conduit and the typist, or the secretary taking down when needs to be written. Your eyes are open and you realize what is happening but you have no control over it, and that is okay. Whether or not you experience accolades, fame, or fortune from your work is inconsequential. You just write. And that is enough. It is pure magic. Tyler and Jack fight to the death. Jack finally realizes what has been happening to him and he and Marla watch as buildings come tumbling around them. His eyes are open and he is in awe.




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Random Chick Blog: Woman. Wife. Mother. Member of an Insane Society.

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