Why Do We Really Call Writing Hard?

Monday, August 17, 2015
You've probably heard writers (or yourself if you're a writer) complain about this endlessly. We writer's say it all the time, and it's almost an excuse of some sorts.

"writing is harddd." 
(Yes, we say this with multiple D's in our head.)

I've been saying it myself lately every time I run into struggles with editing. I sigh, close my eyes, and whine, "Ugh, editing is harddd.

But after complaining one day, I opened my eyes and thought about it. 

Why do we really call writing hard?

I am in NO WAY questioning the fact that writing is hard. It's just a good thing to think about. What if you were talking about writing and its challenges, and someone asks you, "So why is writing hard?" You don't want to freeze when that happens. 

So, just in case you're not a writer or you are and simply need to be reminded of the difficulties with writing (?), this is a list for you. 

Writers have to put themselves in the minds of characters. 

So what if the writer is an introvert and the character is an extrovert? You have to become like your character in order to understand them. Writer's have to become the hero, the villain, the lover, the comedic relief, and the warrior. 

Writing a book is not a one step process.

First you have to actually come up with the idea. Then, if you're more of a plotter, you have to develop the idea. Think of the characters. Think of the obstacles. After you're done with that, you have to write it. Writing the book is one of the easiest parts. Because after writing, comes editing. 

Editing takes a long time, and often you have to go through multiple drafts to get the manuscript perfect. After the rewrites, the plot changes, the character redevelopment... then you have to line edit. Send it to betas. Send it to critique partners. 

After all of this comes the publishing business. I'm not even going to start on all of the work involved there. 

Writing takes time. 

(Actually, for the next book I write, I'm going to time the hours/days/years it takes me from start to finish. From the small idea to the last edit, so that'll be interesting.)

The problem is, there's only 24 hours in a day. We sleep for a lot of that (or maybe not if you're a writer?), we eat, we procrastinate, spend time on social media, blog, work, school, and do general other things like Church and sports and reading and whatever normal human beings might do.

So after we waste most of that time, there's not actually a lot of time left for writing, so you really have to make the most out of it and work fast. 

Writing needs creativity.

Do you know how hard it is to write when you're sleep deprived and your mind is lacking in, well, thoughts? 

Well, it's hard, and writer's need to do it all the time. Writing takes a lot of creativity and imagination. Especially for fantasy and sci-fi writers to create worlds and new laws of the world. 

And... you actually have to do the writing.

Which means you need lots of motivation. 

I think writers, or at least I have this habit of talking a lot about writing. I read a lot about writing, go to writer's conferences, and I pin writing related images and articles on Pinterest.

But, no matter how much I do all of the above, I actually have to write. I have to do the editing if I want to publish. And I think that's one of the hardest parts about writing: writing. 

- - -

- Katie Grace

Did I miss anything? What makes writing hard for you? (I know you have your reasons, so do share!)

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  1. This is an awesome list!

    That first one though. Gets me all the time It is why I love writing and yet why it's so hard. I think non-writers don't realize how hard it it is to put yourself in someone else's mind. (Then you get in the habit of it and do it in real life.) Sometimes I feel more like an actor than a writer. . .

    Also, the actually writing part. Again non-writers seem to think it all just comes out of the blue. But writing takes a lot of thought and "conjuring," and then you have to actually write it (unless you're a diehard pantser, then you write it, and think about it afterward, which makes editing all that more harddd).

    Awesome post!

    1. Ugh, right? It definitely is like being an actor. I really like that analogy. :)

      Haha. I'm a mix of a pantser and a plotter, so there's lots of rewriting involved with my editing. :p Writing is, well, like I said above, a really hard process. It's not easy to get words onto the paper.\

      Aww, thanks. :)

  2. This entire post is perfect. I need to broadcast this to the world.

    One thing that makes writing hard for me is that there's very little payoff. I don't get paid for writing. I don't get chocolate for writing. I don't even get praise for writing. All I get is a bunch of words on paper that I know I'm going to have to start shuffling around and deleting and adding to pretty soon, anyway. And it doesn't help when everybody starts asking you, "Why don't you do something 'useful' with your time?", or worse, "Why don't you get published and start making money with your writing?" (news bulletin: you can't get published until several people in a publishing house think your work is publishable.)

    Also, all the reasons you gave. :)

    1. Oh, please do broadcast this to the world. I won't mind at all. *wink*

      Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES to everything you said. Ugh, and people don't really understand writing that much. (And that's why I want everyone to read this post...) I've had some people ask me when I'm going to get published, and it seriously drives me insane. It's not something we writers have control over, and writing a book is so much more than just writing it. *sigh*

      Thanks for sharing and commenting. :)

  3. Awesome post!

    We live in a culture where people are slaves to instant gratification. Patience is not something that many people possess, let alone something encouraged. We want to be happy, now. We want to be successful, now. We don't want to work for it. Fortunately, that's not the writing life and we're better off for it. We actually have to work to see things come together...and our greatest enemies are ourselves. We have to struggle with not comparing and with not being too hard on ourselves for our work. Perhaps this is even more difficult than the writing itself. Again, brilliant post!

    1. Thank you!

      Yes, comparing is one of my struggles. I plan to write up a post on this soon, actually. I have so many writing buddies, and honestly, it's hard not to compare myself. I have to really teach myself how to be satisfied with my own writing and encourage others in their successes and not become jealous. :)

  4. This is a really good post! ^ ^ Writing is hard, but I've never seen a post defining why it's hard. :)


  5. I'd say that editing is the hardest part for me, which is actually doing the writing. You can't just spit out whatever you want, and leave it at that. You need to take lots of drafts over lots of time to keep getting better... And that is hard!

  6. Time is one of my problems.... and of course if I have just finished an amazing book I am either so inspired (happens less often) or I am way to scared to write because it will be so much worse than the book I just read...

    1. Yeah. Comparing is a struggle of mine, too, and saying "Oh, I will never be good enough. Insert name would write it so much better."
      You're not alone!

  7. Putting myself in characters' minds is actually one of my favorite parts. And when it's time for being in the villain's head, oh my squash, I almost scare myself with the evil things they think and do. o.o (Because it means that terribleness is in MY head somewhere...)

    But the time! And the editing! And how it can drag on and on and on! When you're on your umpteenth draft of a story that, from conception until now has taken seven years...well, some days you just don't want to ever lay eyes on that story again. XD Thankfully, I do remember why I love it, and then I can love it all over again. We writers are a strange, mad lot.

    Oh, and Gemma's mention of the Worst Question to Ask a Writer (when are you going to get published)... I identify! I've even had someone express doubt that it would ever happen because it was taking so long. -.- Thankfully, that person is not someone I rely on for writerly encouragement.

    Whew, long comment--sorry! Fabulous post, Katie! Glad I found it. :)

    1. It IS fun putting yourself into the character's mind, but I particularly struggle with the villain because I like to THINK that I'm not evil by nature so it becomes a fun challenge. :D

      Ugh. I WISH IT DIDN'T TAKE SO MUCH TIME. And that everything was perfect when it came out on the page. Though, I suppose if that happened everyone would be equally great at writing and it would (maybe?) be harder to get published. *le sigh*

      Oh my goodness. Yesss. It's rather discouraging when they say, "You're still working on that novel?" Or "Why can't you just send it to me. It's finished, right?"
      (Yes, it's finished, but there is this thing called EDITING.) I'm glad all of us writers understand each other otherwise we'd go crazy. (Except we already are a bit crazy.) (Or a lot crazy.)

      Don't apologize! I love long comments. :D I'm glad you found this post. ;)

    2. Ahh, that makes sense. I suppose I just take my mildly mean thoughts and blow them way out of proportion for the villains. XD Not sure if I should be ashamed or happy about that process, lol!

      I KNOW. *collapses* But that's so true! There might be too many writers then (if that's possible), and the market could be even more saturated than it is now. :/ Oh, and I know for myself, I'd be much shallower as a writer AND as a person if books were perfect on the first try. So there are benefits. Just...challenging ones.

      Eheh. Yes. Exactly. And oh yes, we're already a lot crazy! XDDD

      Oh good, me too! :D

    3. Take your evil thoughts and roll with them! I feel ashamed sometimes, too, when my writerly mind thinks of evil deeds and how a murderer or an overlord would go about doing them. :p

      Definitely. I think all the hard work and the time consuming process of writing slowly (maybe?) shapes us into a different person. I think it teaches me some determination and some patience (though it is a small amount), and it's also been interesting to learn about the insides of publishing. Now when I look at a book in a bookstore, I am astounded by how many people worked on it to get it on the shelf.

      *high-fives* xD

  8. OMG I RELATE TO THIS POST SO MUCH. *tackle hugs post* It exactly sums up why writing is hard. For me, it's particularly hard getting into the heads of so many different characters! I mean, an actor does this FOR ONE CHARACTER AT A TIME. And we have to handle huge casts!! It's complicated and exhausting! And also the time. The tiiiiime. It's not like you can spend a few weeks on a book and boom, done. Like even after the first draft, that could be the first of SO MANY DRAFTS. OMG LOOK AT ALL THIS WORK, LET US COLLAPSE. So basically yes. I agree with everything. I love this post.

    1. EEEE thank you! *the post feels loved* :p

      So many characters. So many drafts. So much time. Just sooo much work. And to think that some people things writers have it easy -- "Oh, you just sit around all day on your computer and type away? Sounds so relaxing."
      No, it is not relaxing. I moan and groan about how horrible editing is because it slowly is SHREDDING my mind.
      *collapses with you* xD

      Thank youuu for the comment!

  9. Writing a book is not a one-step process. Writing a book takes time. Add those two things to the list of things I did not know before I tried writing a novel. Of course I knew that books required time to write and that all good writing needs to be revised and edited, but I did not know just how much time they required and just how many steps they required. *coughs* NOW I KNOW.

    Before I started my novel I thought that I would just pound out a first draft, do one edit and then be ready for seeking publication. Ha! *laughs at tiny innocent self* That is of course not the case. I'm already on my fourth draft, which is my second complete rewrite. Meaning that I have thrown away 140k words already. And I still can tell that there is so much more work ahead for this book, which is difficult. It's hard to stick through the ups and downs of one project for so long, but it's also completely worth it.

    Another thing I would add to this list is research. Even though historical fiction is my favorite genre to read, I haven't ever written a historical fiction novel, although I do want to for my next novel. The problem is that historical fiction requires tons of research. I think part of me thought I would escape the research while writing my sci-fi novel, but clearly that is not true. That thought ended up in me writing three drafts of a story with a pretty good plot and characters but horrible worldbuilding because it's all cliche vague sci-fi stuff that I pulled from my imagination alone and not real science. That's why I just came home from hoarding the library of a ton of space nonfiction books. Oh, this research is going to be fun. *is joking and not joking at the same time*

    1. Ha. I, too, remember those old days when I thought publishing a book was an easy step, and I'd only get impatient with how slowly they got released. *shakes head at younger self* WE BOTH KNOW, NOW.

      Whoahh. That's a lot of words. You have my sympathy. *pat* Rewrites are so hard. Really hard. And frustrating. Especially since after every draft there's improvement, but the WORK JUST NEVER ENDS. It's a bit depressing. :p

      Ooh, yes, research. Thank you for bringing that up! So far I haven't had to do a ton of research, but I got to research sand storms for my recent novel, and it was really interesting watching videos of sandstorms and slightly terrifying reading about how the sand could tear off the outer lid of your eye. I didn't know sand would be strong enough to do that. *cough* Sorry. xD

      And that's why I'm partially scared to write sci-fi. I have this space story slowly forming in my head, but all the RESEARCH that it takes for something like that seems rather daunting. Maybe a bit interesting, but I think it would be hard to find the right books and the right topics and I probably would just do a lot of unnecessary reading. :p
      Good luck with your research! :)

  10. These reasons are so true! I think the only one I'd add is that I have PTSD, and one of the ways it manifests itself is that often my head gets so fuzzy I can't focus on stuff which means I can't work with words as well as I'd like. I think the only thing I personally don't find as hard is the editing--I know, this tends to make me the odd person out, but I really love editing. It's like fitting a puzzle together. The hardest bit for me is writing the rough draft, which is why I write it super quickly--like ripping off a bandaid. It's still miserable though, so I tend to eat a lot of chocolate and drink a lot of chocolate and complain a lot to anyone willing to listen when I'm drafting.

    Good luck on all your writing! :) I totally understand distractions and all (which is why I don't let myself do Pinterest and stuff--I just lose too much momentum). Also, I'd love to know how long it takes in hours on your next novel. When I timed myself for my first book, it came to about 500 hours in all, and I think my second novel is going to be pretty comparable.

    Anyway, great post! And thanks for commenting on Out of Coffee, Out of Mind!


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