by Meg Dowell
Writing is hard.
You know this without having to convince yourself it’s true. You may love it – it may be your art; your love; your baby – but that doesn’t mean there are days it doesn’t take all you have left in you to drag yourself to your laptop and write something. Writing isn’t easy. Sometimes it feels like the words are flowing from your fingers and they’ll never stop – but not long afterward, you’re staring at your empty coffee cup, in a daze, as if you can’t believe you just wrote 2,000 words without thinking twice about it.
The truth: you’re always thinking, even during a flow state. And that’s the downside. That’s where things get complicated.
I’m not a brain expert. But this is the most simplified way I could force myself to explain this. Why? Because I’m tired. Writing is hard. We’ve been over this.
Have you ever thought – really thought – about what writing is? It’s not just thinking. It’s not just a mindless transferring of ideas from a brain onto a page. You are literally recognizing and selecting a particular thought, analyzing it, figuring out the best way to use written language to interpret and translate it, and then you are actively using real words to convey what was, only seconds ago, an abstract thought only you could read.
You’re doing all that … in seconds. No wonder you’re addicted to coffee and chocolate bars.
Writing is work. Really hard work. Even those who boast that writing comes easily to them get tired. That process of interpreting and translating ideas into words may happen more quickly for some than others, some may struggle or have fewer bursts of brain rush or may have a hard time motivating themselves to sit down and do it, but that doesn’t mean it’s less of a chore for one person than it is another. We’re all human. Our brains all run on the same energy sources and have that energy depleted over and over again throughout the day.
THAT’S why writing is hard. Because we’re just people. No matter how many ideas we might have, no matter how naturally creative we might be – no matter how much we might love to write, and need to write for the purposes of our own happiness and sanity – we can’t write without consequence. There will always come a point where we just don’t have it in us to write at a particular moment.
That’s not the end of the world. That’s just life.
You should never feel guilty about feeling tired. You should never feel bad for saying writing is hard, regardless of how many people might fire back at you with how “easy” a job as a writer must be. People who assume writing is easy clearly lack the true experience of a writer – that experience that is, sitting at your desk, knowing what you are trying to say, frustrated because the words won’t come out right, but trying to push through it anyway to create something others may one day benefit from and/or appreciate.
All that said, there also comes a point at which you must continue on. It’s one thing to feel weary, let yourself rest and give yourself time to ease back into business as usual. It’s another to let that set you off your intended writing course completely. You have to keep going. You have to be able to recognize when you’ve pushed yourself too far, back down, and then jump back into writing as soon as you can. That’s discipline. That’s resilience.
Yes, writing is hard. But you’re tough. You’re strong. You want this. So you can’t just quit. Your ideas need you. Don’t abandon them. Let them carry you through the toughest days, those days coffee won’t help and you can’t keep your eyes open and you just want to take a nap. It’s going to be worth it. All the sacrifices you’re making, you’ll be grateful for them later. You can’t picture that in your head now, but believe it. Challenges are what help you grow. Growth is how aspiring writers establish careers as successful professionals. You’ll get there. You can do this.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.