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?



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

    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?

  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.

    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.

  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.

    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.

  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.

    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.

  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.

    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.

  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.


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