Why is it so tough to write?

by The Book Consultancy on January 21, 2012

It seems odd, doesn’t it, that writing any kind of a book, a novel, an autobiography, a history, can be such an uphill struggle, when almost all of us can talk a blue streak at the drop of a hat (and use clich├ęs a mile a minute…)?

What is it, then, that makes writing so hard, that makes setting fingertip to keyboard so much more difficult and torturous than chatting over a skinny latte or a half of Bombadier? One thing is that, particularly as beginning writers, we tend to be looking over our shoulders all the time – what are ‘they’ (that shadowy and threatening horde) going to make of it? In this way we second-guess ourselves, writing for an imagined judge, and shrivel into a drab and careful safety. “The Sylvia Plathworst enemy of creativity,” said Sylvia Plath, “is self-doubt.” So the ability to swallow hard, grit your teeth, shrug your shoulders and just go for it (a physical feat not to be underestimated) is essential if you’re to write anything worthwhile.

Even more significant, though, I believe, is the strange and delicate dance which is creative thinking, a balancing act between willed rationality and unexpected verbal collisions and discoveries. To have the clarity to plan, and the lightness of touch, the open-handedness to allow things to arise, that is the mark of a practiced writer. And how is that to be achieved? Firstly, simply, just by writing, regularly, day in, day out, every day, come rain, shine or plagues of frogs. Regular, sustained commitment to your writing provides the solid, ingrained discipline of mind and hand which enables the unforeseen, the only half-guessed at, to flicker into being.

So, if you want to be a writer, there’s only one thing for it – you have to write!

Writer at work

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