Great Writing Is Never Easy

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Highland Bull and Calf

I received an email from someone who told me they love my writing and they wished they could write as well as I do. I thanked them for their praise and then screamed.

That is because I am frustrated now, frustrated because sometimes the words don’t come with the ease with which people think and I am infuriated.

Mostly I am upset with myself because normally I can pump out the content at the quality level I have come to expect of myself with far less work than it is taking now.

But sometimes you run into moments where the words don’t flow with ease and you just have to deal with the reality that you are engaged in a life and death struggle with the baddest motherfucker you have ever met.

They know all your strengths and weaknesses and the reason they are so goddamn difficult is because that fucker you are fighting is you.

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. …this book…is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.
Drink and be filled up.” ― Stephen King, On Writing

It Is Not Writer’s Block

It is not writer’s block that has me so incensed. The words flow from my fingertips and right to the page. There is no shortage or problem making them appear.

The problem is I hate what I write.

These words have no rhythm or flow to them. They aren’t ugly enough to be beautiful nor eloquent enough to make people feel magic or moved.

And when I can’t find a way to unleash my passion and personality into what I write the work is diminished and I can’t expect the reader to want to spend time wandering through the meadow I tried to paint.

Sometimes this happens and I have to make like Hemingway and bleed at the keyboard.

The moments come and I think about climbing over the fence and daring the bull to come after me because I will nimbly leap over its head and onto its back and then wrestle that sucker right to the ground.

Don’t think I can do it?

Climb into the ring with me and see what happens.

“if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.” ― Stephen King, On Writing

We all have our ways of dealing with challenges and processes we go through to overcome the hurdles we come across. I don’t know if mine are any better than any others but I know they work for me.

Sometimes I get mad and rant and rave and somewhere in the midst of the moment the clouds disappear and I see sunshine and sometimes not.

Sometimes I go exercise or go read. Sometimes I do both.

But the one thing I always do is just write and accept that you won’t always hit a home run. More importantly your perspective as a writer covering your own work is always skewed.

Some pieces that I thought were awful were given high praise and some that I loved were skewered. So just write, do your best and try not shed too much blood in the process.

What do you think?

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8 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Biggest Mistake Writers Make

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  3. Jens P. Berget June 23, 2013 at 3:08 am

    I know how you feel. Sometimes I hate what I write, and sometimes I feel that what I write is horrible. And, like you, sometimes I feel that I’ve done my worst writing ever, people tell me that they love it.

    I just keep writing, and I want to keep showing people what I write, no matter how I feel about what I’ve written.

  4. T Hopkins June 22, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Josh, one of the things I enjoy so much about your writing–and what drew me to your blog in the first place–was that not only do you write about a myriad of different subjects (I like that because my mind is all over the place), but also that you write with feeling. I would rather a writer say whatever is on his or her mind at any given time and be real about it rather than “blah, blah, blah”, something the writer is really not that passionate about. I think that if someone writes about something he or she has no conviction or real opinion about, that shows in the words and the reader will get bored. But if you are in a mood or are excited about something, in turn, your readers will be, too. Because of this approach you seem to be taking, I’ve learned a lot about a lot of different things–things that I might not have otherwise thought to give my time toward. Thanks for that.
    Each of us has a different voice, and we all have something to say at one time or another. You say it well.

    • Josh June 24, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      Hi T,

      Thank you, I appreciate it. I agree with you. If the writer isn’t interested in what they are writing about they will have a hard time holding onto the reader. Our job as the writer is to put some passion and personality into our posts and if we do that than good things happen.

  5. Mary Stephenson June 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Hi Josh

    What do I think? Well today you are writing and that is cool. I am in the midst of something else and the words, ideas and thoughts are in a fog right now.

    I like the second quote. I know of some that I have totally lost interest in, as all they want to do is be polite with no controversial opinion. It gets boring to be clamoring for everyone’s approval and afraid to rock the boat in case you offend someone. In fact that would be extremely difficult to do, if not impossible. Of course they take offensive if you are not of the same opinion. I don’t believe people should be rude, but they are entitled to disagree.

    The baby is cute with its’ bad hair day!

    Mary

    • Josh June 24, 2013 at 9:04 pm

      Hi Mary,

      Sometimes you have to fight your way through the mess.

      I am a big fan of Stephen King, but I would write that way regardless. I don’t know how to write with passion without putting some fire into it.

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