Writing is hard. At least that’s what you hear when you suggest that you want to be a writer. You can even find quotes from famous writers about how difficult the act of writing is. I can’t agree with that statement – the one about writing being hard. You see, it’s not for me. It has never been an activity that I found troublesome. Maybe I’m unique, but I don’t think so. There have got to be others out there who don’t see writing as a difficult task.
I started writing on a fairly regular basis when I was 12. My grandparents gave me a locking diary into which I would pour my heart. My writing journey, however, started even earlier. I was almost four when cancer invaded the body of my biological father. To make the most of his remaining days, my parents sold the house and the business, purchased a Ford utility truck/camper and a 22-foot travel trailer, and off we went on a family road trip. My oldest sister has already flown the coup, so there was me, mom, dad and three sisters (I am the second to the youngest).
We traveled throughout the western states and my mom (an ex-teacher) homeschooled my two older sisters (this was long before homeschooling was the thing to do). Everywhere we went (of significance) their homework assignment involved some sort of writing. Even though I couldn’t write yet, I would take along a small notebook and pencil and pretend I was taking notes about what I was seeing. I would look up at something and then jam my head down into my notebook, vigorously scribbling lines across the page. I have a photo of me doing this somewhere in our packed things.
The writing bug continued when I officially started school. I don’t recall doing this, but I created my first “book” when I was in first grade. I meticulously bound the hand-written pages between two pieces of cardboard and tied the spine together with red hair ribbons. I found this treasure as an adult on one of those occasions when my mom and I went through her cedar chest to see what she had kept over the years.
The writing bug infected me to the core. I had to write. It was (and is) like breathing to me.
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
When I started an MFA program in creative writing, I finally realized from whence the “writing is hard” idea came. It’s not the act of writing that is hard. Anyone with a primary education can do it. The hard part is the rewriting and editing – holy moly, is it hard. I never significantly rewrote my writing until the last year of my undergraduate work. Before that time I wrote a paper a day or two before it was due and handed it in. Finito! My senior thesis was the first time I rewrote and edited an entire document, and that was only because I was forced to by my academic advisor – and I had to prove it to her by turning in several versions. Talk about torture.
There was also the novelist (visiting lecturer) who told me that “you must rewrite a story at least ten times before it is ready for publication.” What?! Ten times! I can’t rewrite something ten times! At least I didn’t think so at the time.
The editing process is gut-wrenching work. You write your “little darlings” on the page and then you must hack them to pieces, trying to find a better, more suitable way to convey the message. It’s dreadful. The act of creating sentences that mean something, inspire others, teach an idea, share an experience, or create a mood, not THAT’s the hard part of writing.
Another hard part of writing is convincing someone, usually a complete stranger, to represent or publish your work or to make a movie out of your scenes and sentences. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. That shit is hard, especially when you’re an introvert (I think most writers are) and you only want to stay huddled up in your writing den crafting your art.
So, the act of writing is the easy part. It’s all the rewriting, editing, revising, convincing, deleting, scrapping, and redoing that is so difficult. Go out there and write – the only way to make the other pieces easier is to do them over and over – and over again.
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Corrie Ann Gray is a visionary writer, strategist, philosopher, and a damn good cookie creator. She is also known as The Renaissance Soul Writer and is the founder and director of the Clean Body Project, where she inspires individuals to live a holistically purpose-filled life.