Writing is hard

Writing doesn’t come easily to me. Let me clarify what I mean by that. I love to write, and I have a fair amount of confidence in my skill with prose. I think I can write a nice sentence, and a nice paragraph, and a nice chapter, etc. And, I’m proud of my imagination, too. I love the ideas that come to me, and I love nurturing them along and spinning them into outlines and synopses. So on the one hand I love coming up with ideas. On the other hand, I love playing with language.

It seems like those two components should be all I need to write along in a dreamy, blissful fugue, spinning stories off my fingertips left and right. Right?

Wrong.

I am also afflicted with perfectionism. Sometimes I feel like Perfectionism should have its own entry in the DSM — it feels like a diagnosable psychological disorder to me! I get so very stuck sometimes. I become aware that a sentence or chapter is not rolling along as well as ever it possibly could, and that awareness sort of rears up and blocks out everything else. I become distressed and distracted by the imperfections to the extent I have to sort them out before I move forward with the story.

– Laini Taylor, Not For Robots

These could be my words.  And I could not write them better, so I am posting them as they fell from the lips of someone who has a really good handle on what writing really is.  The truth, as opposed to those fantasy pictures of the writer happily typing away in a garret somewhere, pulling out the final sheet with ‘The End’ written on it and merrily boxing the whole thing up and sending it to their publisher.

I’m posting this to remind myself, and any of you who might be struggling, that writing is hard.  And that some days it just sucks.  And that perseverance and stubbornness are some of your best buddies when you are facing the black hole that is your story.

But I love it.  Even on the bad days, I love it.  I complain sometimes about stopping, but I honestly don’t think I could.  There’s nothing else in the world that satisfies me more than writing.

No, not even chocolate.

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12 thoughts on “Writing is hard

  1. Hi Merrilee,
    Thank you so much for your refershing honesty. This post definitely resonates with me. I love writing myself, but often find the task of getting started so daunting. Once I get on a roll, I’m okay, but it’s not easy to find yourself on that wave, you have to put in so many hours of dedicated effort to get there. And that window of effort you must generate yourself is not easy to find.
    Like another post indicated, writing is easy, but writing very well is hard. Plain and simple. It helps to hear other writers share their stories. I found you through Post-Apocalyptic Publishing, Em’s blog regarding ‘What’s in a Name?’ That one struck a chord with me as well. Feel free to stop by and visit my own post at http://debrahutchens.com/blog/ where I talk about anything from new stories, personal writing expedition efforts to already developed stories and simply thoughts of the day that rankle my nerves.

  2. Wonderful post — both your words and Laini’s.

    Of course, I’ve shot my inner editor for November doing NaNo so the concept of perfectionism is out the window as well — but the love of writing, yes, I resonate with that!

  3. Thank you for this, Merrilee. I really resonate with this post, and I appreciate the encouragement. Not even the garden satisfies me quite like getting it down on paper. ;)

  4. Hi there — found you via Linda Cassidy Lewis. I have this same DSM ;) which then progresses to full-on procrastination. But, I always come back to it.

    When you “love it even on the bad days” you know you’re a writer!

  5. I agree with you. Perfectionism will slow anyone down. It may not be a disorder, but it seems so to those struggling with it. Letting go of the fear of failure and rejection is heartrending and humbling. Like writing a novel, it is worth the investment of heart, mind, and soul. Writing is hard. It’s encouraging to know that we are not alone struggling with the issues that beset us. Blessings to you…

  6. Thanks for posting this… I need this right now. I’m a chapter and a half away from finishing my fourth novel and I hate it so much, it’s like pulling teeth to finish it. Because I don’t have a lot of writer friends in real-life, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels this way. And just like you, at the end of the day, no matter how horrible I think my writing is, I still love it, and I’ll still be writing the next day.

  7. Great timing for this post! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m undecided about the chocolate though…maybe. No, your right. Writing beats chocolate. :)

  8. I loved this just because of it’s sympathy. I’m not professional but I love to write. I wish I could spend more time working on my writing skills but I have a job to get to and things to take care of that pull me away. I’m not a perfectionist though…I’ll blog and post and rethink and try to do better next time; always trying to get closer to expressing myself more creatively but knowing that’s a long way off.

    FD

  9. So true! Those could well be my words too! The challenges of NaNo is making my affliction rear its ugly head. Instead of ploughing on with the story, I get stuck with finding the perfect word, the right phrase, working out the specifics of dialogue…sometimes I wish I could just turn off my inner editor and just write!

  10. well said, on both counts! I love not for robots. and I love writing, even though I moan and obsess about it. nothing quite compares to the big grin you get when one of your own characters surprises you.

    :)

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