Writing: is it hard work?

Sometimes I hear traditionally published writers being interviewed on the radio bemoaning that writing is hard work. Usually I get a tad cross, they have everything I want (or so I think in the moment) and envy is a terrible thing. But these last couple of weeks I’ve been wondering: is writing hard work?

I don’t mean hard work as compared to digging diamonds out of a mine in Angola. Or trying to get by as a single mum on minimum benefits. Or being a subsistence farmer. But is there something hard about trying to be a writer?

Perhaps that is a different question. The writing I don’t find hard. I know I have to make a commitment of time, energy and creative input to compose the best story or poem I possibly can. However, I find this process of creation a joy.

Being a writer, though, there’s the rub. What is a writer? Someone who writes, who commits to the craft of writing? If only. There’s an argument that a piece is not complete until it has been read. And connecting with readers is, of course, hard work.

The other thing I find hard work is keeping motivated. I get caught up in a ‘what’s the point’ – ‘no-one cares’ spiral which stills my hand and seeks to squash my creative spirit. The Great Silencer. I struggle with him a lot.

Maybe it is only our own demons which make writing hard?

What makes writing hard for you?

 

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13 thoughts on “Writing: is it hard work?

  1. Helen Birmingham

    Writing for me is intensely difficult if I try too hard. How many dull poems have been written about ‘not being able to write’? A la Monty Python “and now for something completely different” is the only way I can banish ‘The Great Silencer’. Then inspiration creeps up on me and becomes so deeply embedded, that before I realise it is there, it feels like it has always been a part of me. X

    Reply
    1. Kate Evans Post author

      I agree ‘trying too hard’ appears to crush my creativity, though I know I have to give space and time in order for it to ‘creep up’ on me, otherwise I suspect it thinks, why bother?

      Reply
  2. Helen V Anderson

    I find it hard to going in the absence of feedback. My own confidence in my abilities is fragile. I keep a drawer full of encouraging reminders in my writing desk – nice notes or acceptance letters and such like.

    Reply
    1. Kate Evans Post author

      Yes, going forward without encouragement is very difficult. I suppose one of my fantasies about having a traditional publisher is that they would be continually encouraging – probably just a fantasy. And I do have some wonderful writing friends who hand out feedback and encouragement when I need it, I am very grateful to them.

      Reply
  3. Lorna

    It’s all the interruptions and other work that make it hard. It’s often 10pm at night before I’m settling down to write and while I would love to stay going till 2 or 3 am, getting up at 7am means that’s rare. I do love it though.

    Reply
    1. Kate Evans Post author

      Wow, I’m impressed, I have to write in the morning. But I do think we differ as to when we are most creative – some of us are ‘larks’, some ‘owls’ though our schedule can also be defined by necessity. When I worked full-time and commuted into London to do it, I had to write in the evening whatever my preference was.

      Reply
  4. Kate M. Colby

    For me, writing isn’t the difficult part of being a writer. I struggle with the tedium of editing and revising and the puzzle that is marketing. If I could simply write first drafts and force someone else to do the rest, I think I could write a book a month. Don’t get me wrong — as tough as it is, I do enjoy the rest of the process, but I’d rather be in the first draft stage.

    On a more external level, it’s very difficult being a writer when you are not yet published. I feel like I cannot answer the dreaded “What do you do?” question with “I’m an author” yet. And it’s difficult to explain to other people that you are a writer when you don’t have anything on Amazon to back it up just yet.

    Reply
    1. Kate Evans Post author

      I still enjoy the editing/revising stages. It’s the bit after it comes back from the proof-reader I find tedious, yet have to keep focused or mistakes will creep in (as I have discovered). On speaking to someone in publishing the other day, I discovered the bit after proof-reading would be done by a type-setter & checker if I were traditionally published. Another plus for that route. I agree, non-writers are often quite dismissive if you haven’t had something published. Self-belief is a toughy for writers I think.

      Reply
  5. Lani

    I hear what you’re saying. I enjoying writing, too. I love writing and it’s fun to see where my writing takes me. It’s a process and it’s also fun to be part of a group and see what they have done, as well.

    That being said, I think people who say “writing is hard” are saying that, “Hey, this isn’t as easy as it looks. Re-writing is a pain the in A.” There are also many facets of writing that can be challenging to writers depending on the person. So, I get that kind of talk.

    But if writing, just writing is difficult? then yeah, maybe it’s time to switch gears or get in another vechicle.

    Reply
    1. Kate Evans Post author

      I agree, I think it is worth pointing out sometimes to non-writers that the process takes time, energy, focus, a modicum of talent, crafting…. I do hear sometimes, oh I could write a book, coming from people who haven’t even tried and I find that tiresome.

      Reply
  6. belledelettres

    I’ve just had thirteen single spaced pages of feedback on my PhD (70% novel, 30% critical piece). Despite having spent four years on both, I think it amounts to complete re-writes and quite a bit of research. I have to keep telling myself the re-writing is better than being in an office 9-5. And I could do it all in bed. Or anywhere with an internet connection and a library.

    Reply

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