when writing is hard

Good Work

Granted, my experience in the world of writing isn’t as extensive as some writers. Certainly not as extensive as Stephen King’s. That said, I’m inclined to agree with the above assessment, and I’ll go one step further: writing, good writing, is almost always hard and rarely feels magical while it’s happening.

Don’t get me wrong. There are times when everything pops and a writing session leaves you feeling like you’re on top of the world. That does happen–it just doesn’t happen often, at least not for me. Most of the time I finish up a writing session questioning the quality of everything I just wrote. It all feels like garbage.

King’s point, though, is both profound and true. It’s okay, even normal, to doubt the quality of your work, especially after you’ve just finished wrestling words from the dark corners of your mind to the page, but feeling like it’s all crap does not mean it’s all crap. In fact, many times when I go back and read my stuff later, I’m delighted to find that it’s much better than I thought it was.

Perfect? No. Hardly. But a solid base? Yeah, often it is.

Look, if you’re into instant gratification, then writing probably isn’t going to be your thing. It’s not just that publication is a long and difficult process. It’s that combined with the reality that there will be more times when you feel iffy about your own stuff than times when you thinking you’re JD-fucking-Salinger.

When I was a kid, I mowed lawns. Even if the yard I was working on wasn’t landscaped or all that attractive otherwise, at least at the end of each job I could stand on the curb, look over the freshly trimmed yard, and see what I’d just done. I could smell the cuttings. I could embrace the sense of completion. I knew I’d spent my time doing something that culminated in a finished product.

Writing isn’t like that.

Is there satisfaction in it? Hell, yes. Is it immediate? Nope. Not even remotely. (Geez, I’m really digging on questions and answers today. Do I know why? No. Am I going to keep doing it? Evidently.)

Don’t let the lack of immediate gratification get you down, though. Know that even when it feels like you’re writing pure shit, you’re probably doing better than you think. Hang in there and keep up the work. The hard work. That’s how most writers end up doing good work, and that is certainly worth while.

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About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

2 Responses to when writing is hard

  1. You’ve out-done yourself today, man, this is a great inspirational post!
    So many times I sit down to write and when I’m done it all looks like I spent three hours making black marks on a fake piece of paper on the computer screen. The important thing I’ve learned is to save that s#*t. Don’t hit delete! Because, as you so wisely point out, it’s a base, and a base can be strengthened, and built upon.
    We truly become writers when we learn to rewrite what we’ve already written. When we realize that first drafts are imperfect, unfinished, but that we’ve gotta take that first step to get to the next.
    I’m tweeting this post. It’s excellent. 🙂

    Like

    • dex says:

      Thanks, Cynthia! I really appreciate that, and I completely agree with you. Without the (sometimes crappy-feeling) base, your writing simply can’t grow. Plus, it’s good to know others experience the same thing. 🙂

      Like

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