Writing is Not that Easy – Or is It?
Every person you ask will give you a different opinion on how hard it is to write. I think my editor, Dave, said it best when I asked him about writing and self-publishing: It’s as easy or hard as you make it.
BUT! (Yes, there’s a but, but not a butt, here.)
As with most things in life, practice makes better, so you actually have to WRITE if you want it to get easier. Daily is preferable, of course. In this case, quantity is more important that quality. If you wrote one thing, and then spent all your time trying to make it perfect, you’d never actually get anywhere.
Trust me on this. When I began my first book, I had 20 pages down. I’d read something from one author who said that she made sure each scene was complete before moving onto her next one. Since I had no idea what my process was at that time, I decided to try her style.
I spent forever on those 20 pages, and didn’t get any farther. Eventually, I decided it was time to move on, and it would be better to finish the book and then come back to it. That turned out to be a good choice, because after I finished the first draft, I printed the bloody thing out, opened up a blank doc, and wrote the whole thing again – and the second time around, those first 20 pages changed a lot and sounded a hell of a lot better.
Basically, I’d honed my writing by completing the book.
Since then I’ve begun a blog, which has a different writing style, and started freelance ghostwriting, which means I write tons of different things, in my clients’ voices. It’s expanded my abilities, which I plan to use in future books.
How the hell do I get there?
Well, if you’re anything like me, it took bloody AGES. I used to try to write thousands of words at a time, which didn’t really fit my work schedule. Or I’d wait for inspiration. (I KNOW! I’m ashamed to admit it, but yes, I did that.) Then I’d feel guilty, because I’d write 1500 words today and then wouldn’t touch the manuscript for 3 weeks.
Three and a half years in and I barely had half a book.
Around this time I began going to a naturopath for unrelated issues, but this woman took the holistic side of her business seriously. In an effort to help with my self-inflicted guilt issues, she gave me a challenge, to make a goal: write for at least one minute a day.
That’s it. Just one minute. This way, if I’m busy or tired, I can open it up, read over things, maybe change a word, and ta-DAA! I’ve completed my minute. Usually, though, once you’ve gotten everything on and open, you look at it and figure, “Well, I’m here. Let’s see how far we can go.”
Using this method, I finished the book and did several major rounds of editing within a year and a half. That also includes working and travelling.
The best part is, that advice can work for ANYTHING you want to get better at, or any hobby. Just one minute a day.
Consistency is key. Now, once that becomes a habit you can go and increase your word count if you so choose. The aim is to reduce stress and guilt, though. If you set your count too high and it’s beyond your ability to reach, lower it.
If you’re serious about honing your writing chops, you need to make a commitment and sit down at that desk, or wherever the hell you keep your laptop or journals.
Now, I find writing…not easy, per se, but more doable. I enjoy the process, even when I’m sitting at my laptop, staring at something I wrote a couple months ago, head in my hands, sobbing, “What did I mean when I wrote this garbage? How? I don’t even know what’s going on!”
I write because I find it enjoyable. So enjoyable. Relaxing. Yes. That’s it.
No. If you find it relaxing, go find another line of work.
Writing can eventually flow, but you need to hone your craft. At the beginning, you’ll be plonking along, painfully.
If typing isn’t that easy for you, trust me, it’ll get easier in a hurry.
Also, I’m a complete and total knob, because I’m talking like I know my shit.
Listen, writing is a pretty individual journey. Every person has a different way of approaching it, like outlining or pantsing. Some people prefer to edit a scene until it’s perfect before moving on. Others write it and when they go back to edit, discover they haven’t got a clue what the hell they wrote, or how the fuck it’s supposed to fit into the larger manuscript.
Keep doing it anyway. If you’re at it, it’s probably more of a compulsion than anything.
If you desperately want to get a story out there, but you just can’t seem to figure writing out, get a ghostwriter. There’s no shame. Plenty of people have the writing chops but might not have the inspiration.
Finally, if you spend more time staring at your computer, crying, you’re still a writer. Put something on the damn page, even if it’s word salad. You can work with word salad. A good editor is worth their weight in gold, but ain’t nobody can do anything with a blank page.
It's about the journey, not the destination.
Peace out, bitches, and see you next time.