What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.
— Samuel Johnson
It’s not easy to write. I take that back. It’s not easy to write well. Even I, a seeming master of the craft (or more so a charlatan who actually believes his tonic water makes your hair grow), struggle at times to write something decent. And “at times” is truthfully quite an understatement.
Good writing is not just a stream of consciousness that pours from a muse. Well, not for normal human beings. Yeats may have been able to compose breathtaking poetry as he shopped for groceries, but I need a computer (one with a sturdy backspace button), a silent, silent room, multiple cups of coffee, and a powerful reason to sit down and even write in the first place.
For writing isn’t all fun and games as most people would like to believe. It’s a struggle. A battle over the connotation of a word. A sword fight with the internal rhyme of a sentence. A series of attack and retreat stratagems with my thesaurus. And more often than not, I must limp away from the fight, gashed and bruised and barely alive.
Though I should have at least a sentence and a half on the page.
It’s not coming up with an idea on what to write that’s difficult. Hell, there’s a million ideas I could write about. It’s just a matter of actually choosing which one to write on.
For instance, back at the writer’s conference, I started talking with an attendee about screenwriting. He liked screenwriting. I liked screenwriting. It was easy conversation. However, halfway into our small talk, he started telling me how he had “all these great ideas” for scripts, he just didn’t have the time to write them.
So (and he sincerely proposed this) he wanted me to take over that “little” responsibility of writing the WHOLE script, and then we split the earnings 50/50.
Ha. Good one.
Because it’s not just the writing that’s difficult; it’s also the living that comes with it. For as a writer, you have to incessantly be aware of your surroundings. You have to be on the alert for anything interesting, extraordinary, or original. You have to subjugate yourself to uncomfortable situations and unpleasant emotions, all so your experience can capture it accurately. You must crave pain instead of pleasure, seek discomfort instead of ease.
A writer is not just a lion tamer, her whip and whistle commanding dangerous ideas to dance around a cage. She must be the drunken spectator who sneaks past the bars and has to dance with the lions herself.