Writing is Hard Work
I know this has a kind of duh! quality, but writing tricks writers because we don’t expect it to be hard. For one thing, when you’re reading a novel which flows, you flow with it. Events unfold in a way which seems almost pre-ordained. Because the reading is easy, it sets us up to assume that the writing of it must have been the same.
The real kicker is that sometimes it is easy. I’m sure you’ve felt it—when the words come faster than you can get them down. When the story seems to be coming from some other place, with your fingers merely its recorders. It is the high which keeps me writing.
Of course, we’d prefer to be constantly in that blessed state. It comes as a real disappointment to find that it’s not always like that. In fact, that these endorphin moments are the exception, not the rule.
I often wonder whether some beginning writers give up because the difficulty is an unexpected and unwelcome surprise. They assume it is tough because they lack the talent. When the truth is, it’s just hard.
Does it have to be hard?
Short answer: Yes. Becoming a good writer is about your unique talent and point of view but equally about mastering your craft and persevering until you can use the tools of your trade with ease and expertise. You must be in command of your technique to showcase your gift and ideas. Can’t grow flowers without the work of planting them, watering them, weeding them. The final product is beautiful but doesn’t come easy.
So my best advice to you: Quit expecting it to be easy. Embrace the challenge of learning a complex skill and keep going.
Malcolm Gladwell talks about needing 10,000 hours of practice to get good at anything. I hope you get there sooner than that, but I don’t think it is a bad number to keep in mind. Getting good at anything requires both talent and perseverance.
With all this doom and gloom, you might be asking yourself:
Why do it?
Because you have to. Because you have something to say. Because it is who you are.
What else do you need?