I have written here and spoken often about the myth that writing is hard. This myth says that writing is naturally, unavoidably hard. Sometimes it’s effortless, but that’s just luck. Mostly it is hard. Once upon a time I fully believed this story. After all, everyone seemed to say that writing was hard, I frequently found writing hard, it made perfect sense to believe a story so fully supported by so much evidence. How was it, then, that I came to believe a different story about writing? Science! Yes, I used a form of logical inquiry that went thus: Sometimes writing feels hard, and sometimes writing feels effortless. The writing that feels hard is not always my best writing; the writing the feels effortless usually is. What’s more, I am much happier when the writing is effortless than when it is hard. Wouldn’t it be nice if the writing didn’t have to be hard some of the times? What if it could always be effortless? And what if the effortlessness isn’t luck? What if there are what you might call environmental factors that contribute to the effortlessness?
So began my inquiry. Which is to say I started paying attention. And soon I noticed the writing was more effortless when I was enthusiastic about what I was writing than when I wasn’t. I also noticed the writing was more effortless when I wasn’t worrying about past mistakes or what the agents would think of what I was writing. And finally, I noticed it was effortless when I was patient, when I didn’t conclude that those moments of waiting for the next word, idea, or scene to come to me were an indication of my inadequacy.
And lo, brothers and sisters, the work became more effortless. This is just how we got to the moon, you know. We asked, What if? What a lovely, optimistic, creative question. Just, What if? You don’t have to know the answer. After all, I was already living in the world where writing was hard. What if another world existed within the one I knew? What if the moon was as close as a thought, and what if it was actually fertile and green, and this stone I had called life was really cold and dead?
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.