Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Writing: easy or hard?

Sorry about the unexcused absences on Monday and Tuesday. I was a bit under the weather.

I didn't get very far in my catch-up blog reading this morning before I came across an interview in which a published writer was asked, "Do you find writing easy?"

Yes, the writer replied, because writing is fun.

Writing is fun for me, too, but it's not easy. It's incredibly difficult, what with all the fiddling and tweaking that's required before I'm happy with each paragraph, scene, and chapter. I'm a slow writer who must go over and over a manuscript before I'm satisfied with my work. Writing well is an enormous challenge, and I often worry that I won't be able to pull off whatever story I'm working on.

I don't quit, though. I never quit. That has nothing to do with self-discipline; it's sheer stubbornness that keeps me going.

When I play a computer game, I never choose the easy level. I have to do it the hard way, even if I end up playing dozens of times before I beat the game. I don't give up because I'm having fun, even when I'm not winning. I'm completely absorbed in my search for an edge, for some strategy for beating the odds insisting that I can't win. My eyes glaze over and I become hyper-focused on my task. I exist only to win the game.

But it's not winning the game that thrills me. It's playing the game to the very best of my ability. That's why I push the settings past Medium and Difficult to Darn Near Impossible. The greater challenge ratchets up the excitement I feel when I'm playing well.

I feel the same way about writing. If writing were easy for me, it would hold little appeal. I write romance novels because it's darn near impossible to write a really good one.

I'm a dedicated procrastinator, but writing isn't a chore I have to talk myself into performing. That's why I've always been puzzled by writers who endlessly yammer about the struggle to get their backsides in their chairs and their hands on their keyboards. I never got why they felt it necessary to pat themselves on the back for meeting daily word counts and other goals. They don't have to write if they don't want to. It's not like anybody holds a gun to your head and orders you to write a novel. So why do so many people work so hard to psych themselves up to sit down and write?

Today I'm wondering if it's because those writers find their thrills in overcoming their reluctance to get started. Maybe that's the challenge they relish.

Maybe I understand them better than I thought.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm not a writer, so I could be way off....but could it not be that some writers are simply "working"? Perhaps they have identified a talent--albeit one they might not totally enjoy--that can earn some money. Thus, it's just a job.

I imagine there are some writers who write not soley for the art of it, the creative pleasure, or because they feel called to do it. Rather, it is just something they CAN do.

Am I crazy?

Wait--don't answer that.

yfs

jeanjeanie said...

Speaking as a lowly wannabe who doesn't yet write for a living, I have a full-time non-writing job, a small side business making crafts to pull in extra money, a needy husband and a life full of people who think it's great that I write and wish me all the best IN THEORY, but in practicality wish I'd stop spending so much time "playing" around on the computer and go get some "real" work done. I have to overcome about a bajillion distractions and tons of guilt every time I sit down to write. That does tend to make it hard to get started.

Though I suspect you're not talking about us amateurs and are referring to those who get to do this for a living.

becca said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your post.
I too continue to tweak until I get that feeling of ahh..yes..this sings to my heart.

Words written from our heart come to life and dance. And its their music that's keeps be writing day in and day out. Thanks for your words. Becca Levie

Janny said...

I love this: "I write romance novels because it's darn near impossible to write a really good one.'

May I steal this and quote it on my blog? Nah, silly question. I'll just quote it and give you all the credit.

Brenda, what a GREAT line. That alone may just inspire me to get back into trying to write romances again!

As for computer or other games at the Ridiculous difficulty level? Not this girl. I need the positive reinforcement. (sigh)

:-)
Janny

Brenda Coulter said...

could it not be that some writers are simply "working"? Perhaps they have identified a talent--albeit one they might not totally enjoy--that can earn some money. Thus, it's just a job.

That's not very likely, given that it's extremely difficult to get published in the first place, and that precious few fiction writers are able to make a good living off their writing alone. (That's in any genre, not just romance.) Writers write because they love it.

No, JeanJeanie, I wasn't talking just about published writers. And the next time you call yourself a "lowly wannabe" on my blog, I might have to shake you.
;-)

Becca, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for commenting.

May I steal this and quote it on my blog?

Absolutely, Janny. Get it before the spam blogs pick it up.
;-)

siamese said...

Hello all, just started blogging late last year and it is hard to be consistant. But is anything else these day? I love your blog and will continue to visit again.

Siamese
siamese-mylitstyle@blogspot.com

siamese said...

It's been months since my last bloggfession. And what a few months it's been. I would like to see more of your art on the site and how's the book doing?

Brenda Coulter said...

Hi, Siamese. I'm afraid I just now noticed your comments. Thanks for your kind words about my blog, and best wishes with yours.

My latest book will be in stores September 25th. Thanks for asking.