Thursday, July 10, 2014

Why Writing Is Hard (but You Should Try It Anyway)

When the movie Julie and Julia came out five years ago, I was so oblivious to the proliferation of personal blogs that the whole idea of Julie Powell's What Could Happen? Blog fascinated me. Not only had I not read Powell's blog (I don't cook) about making all the recipes from Julia Childs' most famous cooking book in the span of one year, but I was in some kind of cocoon a person with a career in a publishing house should not have been in. Writers were bravely coming forth with blogs from every corner on earth, and I hadn't noticed!

Computer, coffee, bathrobe . . . yes!
Fast-forward more than a decade after Julie’s blog. I not only make part of my living as a writer but now I realize more than ever what a challenge it is to get those words down and crafted into something . . . well, readable.

Here are three reasons writing is hard but I think you should try it anyway. (A blog, short stories, novels, a memoir . . . whatever it is, you know you want to.)

·         Fear of failure often comes calling on would-be writers, but that shouldn't stop you. Has it been too scary to start writing because you don’t think you can succeed, however you define success? Shove those fears aside. A few paragraphs and pages later, you’ll have real words to show for your effort and will probably feel a little more courageous. Even established and successful writers sometimes stare at their computer screens for a while, not sure they can get started on new projects for fear of failure. (Yes, it takes bravery for me to even write for this blog!)

·         Right words are hard to find, but you can find them later. Those times when the right word won’t quite come to the front of your brain, close enough to your mouth to get out? Yeah, that happens with keyboarding fingers too. But that is why writing is all about rewriting, probably the hardest part of the writing process but oh so necessary and worth it. If the right words aren’t quite coming in your draft, you can put in close-enough-for-now wrong words and come up with right words later. And by words, I don’t mean just grasping for a word here and there. All the elements of good writing must fit together—and that takes time and more than one draft. 

·         Good writing requires learning, but you can easily access a plethora of resources to soak in even as you write. If you have a story to tell, write it to the best of your ability while you’re reading books and articles and blogs, attending writers’ conferences . . . anything you can do to improve your writing. But in my opinion, you don't have to learn it all and then write. Gained knowledge put into practice as you go along will give you confidence to keep going. Learning may be hard and writing and rewriting harder still, but you have a much better chance of writing successfully when you are armed with knowledge about the craft.

For readers, what favorite author can you barely imagine never writing because of fear? Do you know an author whose history includes a time of fear?

For writers, what resources have you found most helpful to learn more about the craft of writing?

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