Tuesday, May 29, 2007

This Writing Gig Is Hard

Writing is hard.
I know this.

But some days, it's harder than others. Like yesterday.

I took a nap yesterday because, well, I wanted to, and when I woke up, I thought, let's boot up the laptop and do a bit of editing. So I did. And I dug into the story, prepared to create a masterpiece. (Ok, not a masterpiece, but you get the idea.) And of course, everything I read looked like total and complete crap. It was boring. And I thought, if I'm bored, the reader is going to be even MORE bored and never finish the book!

And it made me think of all those people who believe that writing is easy, that you just dream up a clever little story and put it down on the page. But it's not easy. It is soooooo not easy. Maybe that's why, over the years, I have collected motivational writing books like The Writer's Book of Hope and The Courage to Write, both by Ralph Keyes, and Writing from the Inside Out by Dennis Palumbo. I need to know that I'm not alone, that not just any one can put fingers to keyboard and type a great story.

It's not just about coming up with a good idea - you have to convey it in so many ways through craft. There's pacing. And character motivation. And goals. And conflict. Foreshadowing. Metaphors. The list goes on and on.

There's a ton of quotes from writers about this subject. Here are just a few:

"I would never encourage anyone to be a writer. It's too hard." - Eudora Welty

"Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." - Red Smith

Of course, there's only one thing to do. Keep at it. But when you have moments like I did last night, sometimes it's also best just to walk away and leave it for another day. And that's exactly what I did. My mind wasn't in the right frame to tackle the editing. Why create more frustration for myself? Sometimes a little distance - even a few hours or so - can make all the difference.

What is your most challenging aspect of writing?


  1. Right now, while I'm stressed about the house, it's motivating myself to actually write. Today I stood around with Sean for an hour, waiting for the engineer to come and inspect our septic field. When I got home, I sat outside and painted my toenails a pretty, pretty pink. Hmmm. I shoulda been writing, but I had 0 motivation to do so.

    Glad to hear you were able to walk away from your work last night without beating yourself up :)

  2. Getting the story that's in my head on the paper. I write stuff and think 'where is this?' 'where is that?' but you can't always squeeze it in when you're trying to balance everything else. *sigh*.

    Mom and a writer. I think I either need drugs or hypnotherapy ;)

  3. Michelle Willingham3:50 PM

    I think every aspect is hard! And it never gets any easier because you naturally stretch yourself as a writer to learn and do more. Hugs and hang in there! You can always fix a bad page.

  4. Devon Ellington6:48 PM

    The most challenging is morons who come to me with ideas that I should write for free -- but they'll get the credit! I've stopped being polite. I give them a very high rate and say if they're serious, I expect an advance and a contract on my desk by 10 AM the next morning. That shuts them up!

  5. Melissa, this is a wonderful post. Even in your struggles, you show the tenaciousness required to "make it" in this business.

    For me, the hardest part is getting the right start, as I've blogged about recently. It seems to take FOREVER.

  6. My current most challenging aspect of writing is my day job. My day job, fortunately, is a writing job, but it keeps me away from the creative writing that I adore. I make sure I always have a project with me, though, so I can take it to the break room and work on it once a day if possible.


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