The computer screen glowed a soft white. I’d drawn a blank. This writing stuff was hard. Too hard.
It wasn’t writer’s block. It was just plain hard work – hard to press one more letter on the keyboard, and harder to weave together any more cognitive thoughts.
Writing is supposed to be fun. Not hard. But therein lies the misnomer. It is difficult, and I as thumbed through yet another book on plotting, I wanted to scrap the entire project.
This is why you hear agents and publishers refer to a manuscript from an author as “birthed.” Months and sometimes years of hard work, revision, and thought go into every penned line.
I recently read On Writing by Stephen King. Though I am not a big fan of stories that scare me, I am definitely interested in learning from a man who has sold so many books he can’t keep count anymore. There is wisdom in the success and longevity of King’s work.
When I read about King’s own writing difficulties, I’m encouraged. King placed a goal of 2000 words a day on himself. If he failed to stick to that he said, “the newness of the story wears off. The fun fades. The work starts to feel like work, and for most writers that is the smooch of death.”
There couldn’t be truer words. Writers hit snags. Life. Work. Family. So when writing becomes hard due to these issues, we shut down. . .quit. And that, my writing friends, is the difference in a writer and an author.
As an acquisitions editor, I sit across the appointment tables from hundreds of writers a year. It’s a joy to read good work and to actually find the diamond in the rough. Yet I am still dumbfounded when I request work and never receive it.
Why does this happen? Two things stand in our way.
1) Fear of failure
2) Laziness and lack of commitment
I understand fear. . .experienced it myself. I’d never say it’s an easy fix because it takes self-reflection, determination, and hard work to overcome the fear. However, laziness and lack of commitment burrow far deeper into our being simply because we can hide behind excuses.
“I’ve got so much on my plate right now.”
When I hear that sentence fall from the mouths of writers I know immediately they suffer from a lack of commitment. Writing is not a passion or even a true goal.
Believe me, I’ve heard the gamete of excuses.
“I’ve been so busy.”
“The baby was sick.”
“I needed to clean the garage.” And the all-time best excuse, “My cat had kittens.”
The truth is, their writing process grew difficult and rather than pushing through, they blame the cat. (Really?)
The craft of writing is difficult and like any craft, it requires work. When you hit a wall in your creative process remember the three D’s:
Dedication – Like any task one begins, dedication is a key factor. Set a goal to write daily. Begin small. You can’t expect to write at lightening fast speed, but you can write. Statistics prove when you perform a task daily for thirty days, it becomes a habit. Form the habit of writing every day. If you can’t think of something viable to write, just write your thoughts. Remember, the goal is to write. Develop a daily routine. The more you write, the easier pushing through the hard times becomes.
Determination – We all need determination. It’s the seed that sprouts and carries through when the process slows. Determination also cultivates a love for the craft. The more you love what you do, the more you want to do it.
Do-it Attitude – A do-it attitude prevents us from giving ourselves permission to quit. It’s that Nike commercial ad, “Just do it!” Think of your childhood swimming lessons. The assignment to pass the course is to swim the length of the pool. It’s huge and seems impossible to do. You glance at your mom and she gives you that you can do this look. There is no permission to quit so you jump in and start to swim. That’s when you hear mom’s voice shouting, “Go, go, go. You’re almost there. You can do this.” When your fingers touch the concrete side there is an overwhelming feeling of success. Writing is the same way – just do it. Permission to quit –
Anything worth doing is hard but when you develop the right attitude, set your goal, and jump in with the three D’s, you’ll reap the joy of success. Use your God-given attributes and talents. Practice. Hone your craft. Become the writer you are meant to be.
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