Four Reasons

I don’t think writing is intrinsically hard. I understand that people find it hard all the time, as have I, but there are always reasons for this, and by my count, usually one of four: 1. You don’t actually want to write. Maybe the idea of being a writer appeals to you intellectually, but the writing itself brings you little actual pleasure. There is no crime in this. There are lots of things in the world to do, and writing is by no means the noblest. Find what you truly love most and do it all you can.

2. You are writing the wrong thing. You think you should write something commercial but you want to write something literary; or you think you should write something literary but you would rather write a thriller. Or you are trying to write what you think will please an agent or an editor or your writing group or your mother. You are the only one you need to please, and anything can sell, and no one actually knows what they like until they see it. In short, everything is on the table, so pick what makes you happiest, what comes the easiest.

3. You are impatient. No matter how disciplined you are, there is no forcing the river. Whether you write two drafts or ten, you have no choice but to allow the work to come at the rate it wants to come. Patience is required not just to see long projects like novels all the way through, but to see each sentence through. Sometimes waiting another thirty seconds for the full idea to bloom can make all the difference. And oddly, I have found that the more patient I am, the more I am willing to wait, the quicker the work comes.

4. You are holding two contradictory ideas. For instance, I want to make a nice living, but nobody reads my kind of books. I love to write, but the publishing industry is capricious and uncaring. I love to write, but I’m just not talented enough to be published. One idea is going one way, the other idea is going in the exact opposite direction. You in the meantime remain stuck between these competing ideas, convinced they can both be true. Choose what you want to believe and believe only in it, evidence be damned.  Evidence, in my experience, changes precisely to align with whatever I believe the most.

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