We Only Make Writing Look Easy

Writing is really hard for pretty much everyone. There may be one or two who can whip something up- no alterations required but for the rest of us, it’s a struggle. For some people it’s the time commitment. Others, it’s combating writer’s block. Still others have problems with follow through. Since I’m talking for experience and I’m always fighting some permutation of the above, I’m sure there are other troubles out there.

I wish there was a little magical pill I could take- perhaps a creativity vitamin. I always thought that it wasn’t fair that a writer would spend at least a year working on a piece to make it publishable only to have people fly through the book in a fraction of the time. Then if you’re super lucky the begin clamouring for another one. No wonder some writers freeze up under all that pressure. What a never-ending cycle of demands.

I sometimes wonder if the mediocre writers who have managed to get published are truly writing their best or they haven’t exerted themselves in fear of the truth. It’s terrifying to think that your best won’t be good enough and that whatever you do, you will be falling short of someone’s standards. The entertainment and service industries are very similar (I’m trying to get into one and my career is in the other) in that your success is dependent on others. Are you meeting their needs/wants/demands? Is your sacrifice enough for them? Will they be happy at the end of their experience?

There are anecdotes of writers taking hours to write a sentence. What word conveys the meaning perfectly? What tone does this little word create? It has to be just right so is it good as is or does it need to be tweaked? If it needs to be changed, how should it be modified? Oh the agony! Oh the indecision! I need to lay down. Where’s my cool compress?

This is the reason why us writers (and any artist or perfectionist) can be so delicate. Our works are an extension of our being and as such when they’re judged so are we. The effortlessness of clear prose and meticulously crafted setting and characters can be painstaking work. Each work is a labour of love, whether it’s a short story, poem, novel, or script. We’re all perfectionists at heart and the more we care about something, the harder it is to see it from an objective point of view. Killing off a character may be necessary but never easy. Deleting that sentence or scene may be required but it’s heartbreaking when it was beautifully written. Knowing that each word, sentence, scene and chapter must add to the story in some way doesn’t lessen the pain of culling the superfluous material.

At the end of the day we need to write because otherwise we would burst. It’s only enjoyable and worth it if we do it for ourselves. That magic certainly comes across and our writing is much more enjoyable to our readers. The only way I’ve discovered to deal with being weighed, measured and judged is to constantly remind myself that not everyone will like what I write. If they don’t then I don’t care to deal with them in that capacity. I want to share my amazing world with others but only those who are worthy of it and those who I know will appreciate it.

So next time you pick up  book, take a second to think about the writer. Imagine them toiling on the manuscript and when you encounter a lovely phrase or sentence, read it out loud and relish the sound of it. Slow down and really think about what makes your favourite book your favourite. It’s amazing what our brains gloss over then assimilate into the whole. Sometimes the components can be more beautiful than the whole.

What are some of your usual challenges? 

How do you deal with criticism? 

What is your favourite book and why?