Someone once said (the jury is out on who exactly said it first) that “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.”
Well excuse me if I think that is complete and utter crap.
A lot of writers have explained how stories come to them. How words just show up waiting to be written and characters just start acting without any consideration whatsoever. They come alive and the writer just sits back and watch. I’ll admit that occasionally a poem comes to me in its entirety and I just have to write it down. Sometimes the words flow. But it’s no more than 100 words or so. Even more rare, a scene or story just appears and I write it down and feel confident.
On most days, however, writing is hard work. It is not something I want to do. Bleeding is involuntary if you open up a vein. Sure it hurts, but it happens whether you want it to or not. You don’t really have to work. When I sit down to write, it’s a battle. I have to force the words out. I think they are crap. They are probably crap. Somedays I force myself to continue, other days I dejectedly watch something on Netflix. Such is life. I’ve been working on a novel for a couple of years now (as in I started it two years ago, went a long while without touching it and recently came back to it). Nothing about writing it seems natural and easy. Part of that is because I’m terrible at planning. I really should plan in more detail. Part of it, however, is that writing is hard.
Maybe I shouldn’t want to be a writer, you say? Maybe I should give it up? Aren’t I just one of those posers who call themselves writers but don’t write?
Well, I mean, I’m not going to be a creative writer for a living. But all writing is difficult. I can throw a short article together pretty fast these days, but it still takes me several drafts to get a lead I like (if I find one, that is). Most copy is the same way. I try out several things. I stare at them for a while. I step away and pull my hair out. I hate some sentences for no discernible reason.
A quote that I’m much more comfortable (and that comes from a confirmable source) is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s words “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” I also read somewhere that writers were people who struggle with writing the most. The fighters who go to war with the words. The people who have to open up Write or Die somedays and force themselves to get a word count. The ones who lie in bed with their self loathing because they couldn’t do it today. The people like me (that’s what I tell myself, at least).
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. I’ll admit that I used to think it would be easier. I thought that one day I’d just wake up with an idea and write a novel, just like that. I know better now. I’m going to keep forcing myself to write, because it’s a part of me. The words and I are not always friends, but without them I’d be even more lost and confused. I’m a writer because I say I am, and I show up and try. It’s not, however, as easy as opening up a vein.