In Others’ Words: Ain’t That the Truth

“A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” ~Thomas Mann (1875-1955), German novelist

The more determined I was to achieve something concrete as a writer — publication — the harder it got to write.

The bar was raised — by me and all the writers I learned from or who mentored me.

What was good enough before was simply … not.

And then somebody would ask me, “What do you do?”
And I would say, “I’m a writer.”
And they would reply, “I want to write a book one day.”
And I would smile and nod and say something encouraging. Polite.
But in my head I thought: Let me know how that works out for you.

Because I knew something the person didn’t: Writing is hard, hard work.

In Your Words: Writers, what do you find challenging about writing? (I’m assuming we aren’t going to debate the whole “hard work” assumption.) Readers, ever think about writing a book? Or an article?

I’m interviewed over at the Inkwell today, which is the ACFW Colorado blog. I’m talking about everything from faith to favorite foods to my favorite piece of writing advice. Hope you drop by and visit!

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23 Comments

  1. September 12, 2012, 6:15 am   /  Reply

    Writing is the hardest work I’ve ever done. And depending on where I am in the process, that’s where it’s the hardest. 😉

    • Beth Vogt
      September 12, 2012, 6:35 am   /  Reply

      Agreed, Pat! Wherever I am … that’s where it’s hard.
      🙂

  2. September 12, 2012, 6:48 am   /  Reply

    It is very hard but mostly satisfying work. It seems the more I learn and implement, get a few more skills under my belt, the more I see there is to learn–but satisfying to go slowly forward (foreword?), hoping for arrival.

    • Beth Vogt
      September 12, 2012, 8:05 am   /  Reply

      Love the double entendre, Dee.

  3. September 12, 2012, 6:52 am   /  Reply

    Finding the time! And getting started. Every day, if I can just make myself write a page, then I usually get in a groove. But that first page is often torture.

    • Beth Vogt
      September 12, 2012, 8:05 am   /  Reply

      True, Katie, true … I can often postpone that first page of the day all the way to tomorrow …

  4. Jeanne
    September 12, 2012, 7:14 am   /  Reply

    I think the hardest part of writing is getting the words to convey the emotion, the motion and the nuances just right. But, I also agree with what Pat said.

    I laughed at the quote you shared today.

    • Beth Vogt
      September 12, 2012, 7:40 am   /  Reply

      I laughed at it too, Jeanne. That’s why I had to share it on the blog.
      😉

  5. September 12, 2012, 7:36 am   /  Reply

    Oh yes, writing is hard. I get slightly irked when people say, “oh, what a nice little hobby.” 🙂

    For me, the hardest part is getting past all the distractions and forcing myself to face the blank screen. I love revisions, but that blank screen freaks me out.

  6. September 12, 2012, 8:00 am   /  Reply

    It’s amazing how many friends (maybe all of them) I have who want to write books in their spare time. They suggest meeting for lunch so we can talk about it. When I mention a few things to do before we meet, like check into a writer’s workshop and consider at least one conference, they never mention it again. What they don’t know is that’s the easy part! : )

    • Beth Vogt
      September 12, 2012, 8:04 am   /  Reply

      🙂
      So true, Kim.
      It is never my goal to discourage someone’s dream — but behind every dream is a lot of hard, hard work!

  7. September 12, 2012, 8:23 am   /  Reply

    Hardest thing for me is like Katie. Getting started. Once I actually start moving though, it’s HARD to stop! 🙂

  8. Amy Leigh Simpson
    September 12, 2012, 8:43 am   /  Reply

    I agree with Katie…time is my biggest obstacle! Writing a 100k word novel is consuming. Time, energy, sleep, and pretty much all your mental faculties. Then you have to go back and edit it all! The labor is over of love and is truly worth it!

  9. September 12, 2012, 9:03 am   /  Reply

    Yep, definitely not easy.

    The most challenging part is caging my internal editor on my first draft. It’s tempting to not write much since you know it’s going to be horse manure at first…but you have to move past that in order to have SOMETHING to revise and edit later.

  10. September 12, 2012, 9:03 am   /  Reply

    I hear that same comment all the time – and I wonder: how many people actually write that book? Until two weeks ago, I was one of them – but then I typed “The End” and I believe I moved past a mass of people who “want” to write that book, but never do – because it’s hard. I’m not anything special – I know that the only reason I have this insatiable desire to write is because God gave it to me – and because He has a plan and if I am not obedient, He’ll find someone else to bring it to pass.

  11. September 12, 2012, 10:01 am   /  Reply

    One of my biggest challenges when it comes to writing is keeping the Doubt Dragon at bay. Between him and my Internal Editor, getting words on the page can be tough.

    • September 12, 2012, 7:39 pm   /  Reply

      Great point, Keli! I’m the same.

  12. September 12, 2012, 10:03 am   /  Reply

    For me, the hardest part is focus. Even if I know what scene I need to write, when I sit down I have to work to focus on where I am in the story. That might be easier if there weren’t a hundred other things demanding our attention every day. But we all live in the real world, unlike our characters : )

  13. September 12, 2012, 10:53 am   /  Reply

    I agree 100%, Beth. Writing is hard work, indeed, and you do it so well. Katie hit the nail on the head – getting into the grove of getting out the first page and keep on trucking afterwards.

  14. Teresa Richardson
    September 12, 2012, 10:57 am   /  Reply

    starting to write is hard for me. I doubt that what I write will be what someone wants to read

  15. September 12, 2012, 11:25 am   /  Reply

    Love the quote, Beth. So true, so true. Or is it true that, true that. I just don’t know anymore… sigh.

    The hardest part for me is when I see the end coming like a freight train and I KNOW that I KNOW that I KNOW there are loose ends that aren’t yet tied up. Bringing everyone and everything back to front and center is like trying to UN-T.P. your front yard.

    But I love the encouragement we share knowing that 1) we’re not alone, 2) others have gone before me and have survived with their mental capacities still functioning if not 100% intact, and 3) that this is right (or write!) where I want to be. I’d rather struggle with the end of a manuscript than the engine of a car, or the sharp end of a scalpel, or the instrument panel of a space ship. Any day.

    Blessings,
    Becky

  16. September 12, 2012, 12:26 pm   /  Reply

    The hardest thing is ….wait for it….biiiiiiiig surprise….EDITING! LOL! Great post today, Beth! You are so right, writing is hard work!

  17. September 12, 2012, 2:41 pm   /  Reply

    I attended a lecture a freelance writer gave a few weeks ago. She had great advice on many things, but what stuck out the most to me was not to allow your writing to be under-valued. It’s your job. People often think it’s easy to write….that it should cost them hardly anything to get you to write up a piece. She reminded us that our words are worth something…they are a skill and a talent.

    I write in a volunteer capacity for causes, but there are times when it would be nice to earn a good wage and not feel bad about it. Is that terrible?

    So anyway, it’s wonderful to have writer friends who understand.

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