Writing is hard work. This is the fifth pillar of the writing life. It’s hours and days—and sometimes months and years—of sitting before a computer trying to put words on the screen. Words that make sense. That tell a coherent story. That touch our readers’ lives.
Writing is working through the dry times when inspiration has be to be dragged kicking and screaming to my writing spot. When characters pout and won’t cooperate. When the plot sits there like tangled fishing line and I can’t get the knot out.
Writing means research and fact checking. We can’t just throw anything into a story and expect the reader to believe it.
Writing means making sure we apply the craft to the best of our ability. In workshops, I teach that if the rules of writing get in the way of your story, break the rules. But this isn’t carte blanche to toss everything out the window in the name of creative license. Yes, it’s okay on occasion to break a rule to make the story work but you better know the rule and why you’re breaking it. Writing amok is like running amok. Like a Muppet in panic mode.
Writing means subjecting your work to criticism and feedback. Developing a thick skin and discernment are crucial to having any success as a writer. I’ve written on this before so I won’t belabor it again here.
Writing means rejection. At times, lots of rejection. From agents, publishers, critique partners. We work to learn from rejection, to gather those nuggets that will make our writing better, to not personalize it.
Writing means sacrifice. Writing means time from your family. Most writers have other jobs to support themselves and their families while they pursue this calling to write. So they sacrifice some of their creative time to support their family. Few writers make a lot of money writing. For many, any writing income merely supplements their day job.
After twelve years in this writing thing, I can testify the work—this labor of love and service—is worth every minute. An email from a reader thanking you for the story, for the way it opened their eyes to the world, for the way it brought them closer to God gives a feeling that is almost inexpressible. It’s warm and moving and satisfying. And sometimes scary when we see first hand how our words can influence people.
This last is probably the main reason I believe writing is hard work. It’s choosing, massaging, and crafting words to tell stories that both entertain and add a new dimension or insight to a reader.Something that helps them see the world or themselves in a different, hopefully, better light.
Writing is hard work because it carries such a responsibility.
What is the hardest part of the writing work for you?