Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Writing is Hard & Other Truths About the Craft

As I was torturing myself with Episode 3 of "Sunny with a Twist of Olive" this month, I kept thinking this should be easier. Each aspect of the serialized novel belongs to me: the character, her struggles, her emotions, her pain, her joy, her sarcasm... even her fashion sense materialized out of my imagination. This project started about five years ago with a loose outline, a dream, and not enough writing experience to make it work. Four published novels, two short stories, and several blog posts later... this should be easy. 

But it isn't. 

Writing is hard work. 

I don't sit around in my pajamas, eating candy, drinking coffee, and watching television while dashing off a few thousand words each day. Nor do I drink copious amounts of alcohol and write into the wee hours of the morning. In fact, those pieces usually end up in the virtual recycling bin as what felt like brilliance in the moment is actually craptastic by the light of day. 

Writing doesn't get easier with time. 

I wish it did, but the more I write, the more critical I become. Each word takes a little piece of my soul with it when it's released to the page. I struggle with grammar, spelling, flow, word choice, and vocabulary. I'm struggling to write this blog, because while words come easily to me, parting with them is such sweet sorrow (a little Shakespeare tribute since he just celebrated his 451st birthday, and even though he was prolific, I bet writing wasn't easy for him, either). 

Writing is not a good way to make money. 

The sad truth of the matter is, most writers are undervalued. We're very good at giving our work away for free. All we ask in exchange is a review, some sharing on social media, and recognition for our blood, sweat, and tears. Unfortunately, these rewards don't put food on the table, pay the electricity bill, keep us warm in the winter, or put clothes on our bodies. They do, however make us feel like we should keep chasing our dreams. 

Writing is exhausting. 

It's emotionally draining, and at the end of the day, if I've done my job well, I feel as though I've experienced every emotion, event, and activity my characters have. This is the best part of writing. Wordsmithery is a fantastic way of embracing a completely different persona without making real-life compromises. Even though the activities are fictitious, the experiences are real in the mind of a writer, and hopefully, the reader. 

Writing is an addiction. 

Sometimes, when I feel like I'm swimming against the current, and my books aren't selling, and the words aren't flowing, I just want to quit. I can't. The moment I consider abandoning my passion, a small part of me rises up, takes hold of my creativity, and forces me to continue this tortuous journey. I am compelled to write, create, and direct the lives of my imaginary friends. If I don't, I start to lose control of my real life. 

Writing is hard. 

But I wouldn't want it any other way (except for the income, because, let's face it, who wouldn't want to sit around in pajamas all day, drinking coffee with Baileys, snacking on candy, while writing the next great Canadian novel?) 


  1. Thank you for writing, and for writing this!

    1. Thank you for reading! I was feeling kind of raw after finishing the last chapter of Olive and needed to release some non-creative steam. I also think people need to know that like anything, writing is something that evolves over time, requires practice, training, education, and dedication. It's hard work, but it's always worth it.