You want to know the secret of good writing? The deep, dark truth behind the success of those famous bestsellers? The reality known only to the great masters of fiction and elegant prose?
Well if you’re here, you probably already know:
WRITING. IS. HARD.
Like, really hard.
I honestly wish it wasn’t the case. I wish I had some great tidbit of wisdom to pass on, or at least a detailed cheat sheet stashed away somewhere that I could whip out whenever I go to war with that stupid blank page on my computer screen. Believe me, if I knew the secret to always creating incredible, emotional prose every time I put pen to paper, I’d happily share it with everyone and anyone who wanted it.
Every writer wants the secret to good writing. The internet is practically overflowing with tips and tricks for new and established authors to improve the craft. There are about a billion and one blogs and websites and YouTube channels dedicated to helping writers become better at writing: how to build characters, organize the plot, pace paragraphs and sentences, and craft believable worlds. And there are a billion more dedicated to tearing apart the works that fall short of the mark.
WRITING IS HARD.
As a reader, however, it can be difficult to realize that.
Writers have always seemed a little magical to me. They create entire worlds for me to explore, dream up friends for me to meet and fight alongside, and often speak to me in a way that no one else can. I’m still not entirely convinced that some of my favourite authors didn’t really cast a spell to bring their visions to life in my mind.
It’s hard to connect that all that wonder and enchantment with actual work.
But it is. It’s a lot of work.
Writers sometimes talk about having a natural talent for storytelling, or at least an incredible passion for it, from a young age. Something inside them just compels them to put pen to paper (or key to board) and deliver these amazing books, scripts, and poems to their readers. And I think there’s some truth to that. Some people are just naturally talented: some athletes have a natural sense of coordination, and some writers have a talent for building great characters or plots, or finding just the right flow within their words to make them leap straight off the page and into our souls.
It’s easy to think there’s a little magic to it. Books are full of magic, after all, so why shouldn’t the process of creating them be equally enchanting?
The problem is that we don’t see that process. We don’t see the long hours of training, studying, and endless dedication that it takes to become successful and stay successful. It’s so tempting to believe that talent is all you need. That all you need is natural ability and success will come easily to you.
It’s easy to forget that talent will only take you so far.
Talent is only the first step. It’s setting us up at the starting line before the others have laced their shoes. It’s that little voice that says because we’ve got a head start we don’t need to actually try to stay ahead. And then we’re surprised when we’re so easily left in the dust.
Writing isn’t an ability; it’s a skill. And just like with any skill, if you don’t practice, if you don’t learn how to improve at every opportunity, then that skill will start to fade away. There’s a reason that most successful writer’s share the same piece of advice with their readers and admirers: you have to write. You have to write as often as you can, at every opportunity, and you have to write with the intention of getting better at it every single time, because that, and only that is what’s going to make you a good writer.
And it’s really, really, really, REALLY HARD.
Writing isn’t sipping coffee on a Sunday afternoon with your typewriter waiting for a inspiration to strike like lightning. It’s work. It’s long hours and sleepless nights agonizing over how to start the next chapter. It’s endless rewrites, revisions, cuts, edits, and scrapping of entire plots a hundred-thousand times over before you finally find the right words to tell your story. It’s dissecting your favourite books to find that magical piece that made it connect with you so deeply as a reader and hoping against hope to recreate it with your words. It’s staring at a blank screen, watching that cursor mock you from the top of the page, as you try to push through a month long case of writer’s block, all the while battling your inner critic as it whispers ‘you’ll never be good enough’ on repeat between your ears.
And it’s doing that, all of that, every single solitary bit of that, all over again every single day.
Writing is not a journey for the faint of heart. It can be a thankless pursuit, one that can make you doubt yourself, one that can make you feel that you’ll never be good enough, and bring you just to the very edge of giving up entirely.
WRITING IS HARD.
But you can’t let that stop you.
It’s definitely not going to stop me.
Because I want to do it. I need to do it. Because every part of me wants to be a writer, no matter how many times I fail and have to start again from the bottom.
Writing is hard, but it’s not impossible. And I’m not prepared to give up yet.
Happy Writing! 😀
(PS. Let me know what you all think about this new segment. I’d love your thoughts on how I can improve. Thanks!)