Writing is Hard

Writing is hard, make no doubt about it. The writer’s life seems glamorous on the outside looking in. Well, it may very well be just that for writers like James Patterson. For the rest of us, it’s a slog.

I worked as an engineer for 20 years, a job I never really fit into very well. I know all too well that feeling of dread as the alarm clock goes off in the morning. I know that feeling of just not wanting to face the day again, and being trapped where I didn’t want to be due to financial obligations.

No matter what your job is, you have those days where you just want to do something else–anything else. A root canal is preferable. For a writer, that can signify a number of things from deadline pressure to simply working on a project that should never exist.

While I prefer writing over engineering by orders of magnitude, even during projects where you’re totally jazzed, on projects that have momentum and keep you interested, there are still times when it seems overwhelming. Anyone who has tried to write a novel knows that. Most novels never see the middle, much less the end. (I’d love to see statistics to quantify that statement.)

Ask the failed novelist what happened. Most likely, life got in the way. Writing is like working out. Writing is like maintaining a healthy diet. Writing is like most New Year’s resolutions. It’s easy to quit, and it’s hard to finish.

In a social situation, when you tell somebody you write, it brings up all kinds of questions. Why? Because writing is hard.

+ Are you published?
Invariably, people act surprised when I say yes.

+ What do you write? Lots of things. non-fiction, short stories, and I have three novels out.
Insert impressed look and an affirming nod of the head. Thought bubble over their head says “I wonder if I can pick this man’s brain.”

+ I’ve always wanted to do that.
Implied help request.

+ How did you get published?
It’s like getting to Carnegie Hall.

+ I have this idea. (Implied: I won’t tell you, you might steal it.)
Ideas are cheap and plentiful.

There is no shortcut. You have to create the butt-in-chair time and type. Repeat until the project is finished.

That’s how you write a novel.

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