Writing Sucks, Yet Still I Write

I used to have a very romanticised image of us wannabe authors. We would languidly lie stretched out on our chaise longues, waiting for inspiration to strike before committing to paper the fruits of our labour. These words would flow seamlessly and effortlessly, with no need for correction, before we would fall back, nibble on a fig, and wait for the next literary gem to form in our minds.

Well, that bubble has been well and truly burst. I’ve posted before about writing being hard work. This week has been no exception as I struggle to remain creative and relevant on the blog, while at the same time trudging through the never ending fourth edit of the novel I am currently working on. It has been a case of one step forward, two rewrites back, as I have agonised over minute punctuation, grammar and continuity issues.

When I’m in the zone, the words flow freely. I’m not one for painstaking plotting and planning before I write. I usually just get an idea or scenario and run with it. Often, the story seems to pen itself, and I am but a conduit. Ideas come to me as I write which I know I never would have had, if I had tried to prepare the story in advance. I am at my most creative when I am in the physical act of writing.

Here, I am at my most free. The wind rushes through my hair as I ride the runaway train as it hurtles down the track, heading where to, I do not know. It is exhilarating as the adrenaline flows and I hammer away furiously at the keyboard, afraid to stop or look up for fear that the silver thread of creativity I am clinging onto will snap and this magical moment will be lost forever.

Which is why editing is such a struggle for me. I recognise it is a necessary part of the writing process, but why oh why must it be such a chore. My life is now one where I obsess over quotation marks and commas; I fret over glaring gaps in the plot and continuity errors that a three year old should have picked up on months ago. Paragraphs which I once viewed as unadulterated genius, are brutally hacked to pieces and subjected to searing scrutiny.

The delete button reigns supreme whilst doubts and delays leave me wondering, what’s the point? What’s the point in pursuing this middle aged fairytale when I could be focusing my time and energy on much more tangible pursuits. Why put yourself through this torture day after day, week after week; for a piece that will realistically only see the light of day if I can magic thousands of pounds from somewhere to go down the self publishing route.

Then it hits me. I am not editing the book, rather the book is editing me. The writing process is allowing me to channel my obsessive nature in a constructive, as opposed to destructive, manner. It is chipping away at me, like a sculptor works a lump of shapeless stone; with a patient precision aimed at eventually revealing the beauty within. Removing layers and smoothing rough edges. There is a method to their mundane madness.

Writing makes me a better person, as does running, my other passion. But my true reward is the journey as opposed to medals and published books. They are merely the external signs of what I have accomplished. The real rewards lie within, in how I have changed and am changing as a human being. These are the reasons I sit hunched over my keyboard night after night. It is a painful process, but a necessary one. Pain is the bedfellow of rebirth. You cannot have the latter without the former.

What is your favoured writing style?

Do you struggle with your writing?

How do you overcome your writing fears?

58 thoughts on “Writing Sucks, Yet Still I Write

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  1. I struggle with the point of writing when the point is that it is meant to be read. Anything else to do with writing is just therapy, a workout, a stretch of the creatives.

    When kids ask me, “Where do I start?” I always say, “At the beginning. Let you pen do the work. I am going through a Blogsistential period.

    Mike

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Many years ago, I started writing a book. I stopped. Life got in the way. Two divorces and a third child later, I wanted to write again. However, I am no good at plot and pacing. Key elements to making a story work were not my strong points. Not to be outdone, I decided on the blog. It allows me to write without having to worry about plot and the sort. I am used.in writing articles and research papers, so this is comfortable for me.
    If I could write, I would write an urban fantasy.

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  3. It’s a constant struggle. Like pulling weeds.

    I used to go out drinking when I couldn’t write but those days are over! Now I clean the house. So if you ever visit & the house is immaculately clean, you know I’m not writing much more than my daily diary. A lived-in clutter & several day’s dust on the furniture tells you that I am writing & actually getting things done.

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  4. I’m at the same point. Editing is such lonely hard work and a breeding ground for doubts. Thanks for this, though. To have the state so well expressed by another is encouraging, as is the conclusion on the value of pain.

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  5. It’s easy to have a romanticised view of writers as just churning out page after page of perfect prose, however untrue this is, the image is persistent! Writing is like any job, there will be elements you enjoy and those that you want to put off indefinitely. I guess you have to find your own way through it… good luck 🙂

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  6. Thank you! You have put so beautifully into words all my hopes and fears… and I think the biggest barrier I have put in front of myself when it comes to writing. Editing frightens me so much that I have put off writing for years. Blogging feels different – I can do “stream of consciousness” and I am very upfront about the fact that it is not edited. And so often someone will tell me I should write, and all my insides scream to do it. But fear stops me.
    Just recently, in the last couple of weeks, I have given myself a bit of a challenge, to actually get on and do something. I am still “just” writing. My goal right now is simply to write, anything, daily. I have put the spectre of editing on the back burner at the moment.
    As much as I love this post, it also scares me! But I really love the way in which you end… the notion of being edited rather than the other way around makes a great deal of sense. Maybe, just maybe I might be looking forward to that part of the journey???

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      1. I am writing, writing… every day! Not editing yet… I know it needs it, but it seems to me that I need to get the writing happening regularly first!

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      1. From everything I have read, before you submit anywhere you want to pay for editing but that’s after you have done all your stuff and maybe enlist some beta readers. I have a long way to go too, Stephen. Praying writing can be my primary focus for 2019.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Writing is a labor of love.Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through it … the writing, the rewriting, all the things to do and check before pushing the Publish button. It’s not like I have a big following. Would anyone notice if I just stopped? If I didn’t blog I’d journal. I like to express my thoughts even if it’s only to myself or to God in prayer. He is listening.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This book better make you as famous as the writer of Harry Potter. I’m about ready to demand you let me read it before it is published. Young adult is my favorite reading material and Robert Cormier was one of the best! Chop chop! Just teasing. Sort of maybe just hurry!

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  9. Stephen, do you ever get sick of your writing voice? Of repetition? I’ve been reading over just the flash fiction and thinking, “Why do I start every sentence with either ‘he’ or a lead-in followed by ‘but…’?!” I start slapping my wrists for every adverb and non-‘said’ and leave the keyboard in a defeated huff.
    I also don’t think you should self-publish.

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      1. Sounds like someone needs some ice cream. Or a run.
        Let’s go with a run to get more ice cream.
        I admit to not knowing much about publishing, but I think your book sounds too awesome to duck out early. Publishing through an actual publisher seems the best way to get a story out there, at least initially.

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  10. i have to admit i enjoy the editing part of writing – it appeals to my OCD nature. i struggle with ever letting it go, with ever letting it be “good enough”. as to how i write, i must confess that mostly, sentences and ideas spring into my head that i then pursue. i used to let them go without record; so many ideas lost. now, i keep a rolodex (kicking it old school) of the sentences that form, to be used later. the biggest challenge i struggle with relates to my depression; sometimes it’s just brutally hard to get to it, regardless of how much parts of me want to. thank you for the post; i really enjoyed it.

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  11. Great insights, Stephen. Like you, that also was my stereotypical idea of a writer. I finally enjoy writing because I have put no expectations on the results. In recovery we are told to “plan the action not the results.” Works for me. I think my revelation has been that I don’t need to pen a single word unless I feel like doing it

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  12. It’s not necessary to “magic thousands of pounds from somewhere to go down the self publishing route” because things are different, now: Print-on-demand makes it easy and inexpensive to be a independent author-publisher. Just invest what you’d have splashed out for some ice cream (which is here today, gone today) for a paper proof copy, and if you’re satisfied with how your book looks in the flesh, press the “publish” button.

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  13. I’ve been told I can write. Every so often I surprise myself. I just keep writing because it is a form of talking. I used to be told (as a child) that I talk too much. Ha ha and now I’m not sure what I intended to say….. “Squirrel” 😂

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  14. I’ve loved writing since I was 9 years old. Throughout the years, I fell away from it and have most recently picked it back up. It’s a struggle sometimes, (okay, most of the time) but I find if I just write through the frustrations and the doubt, the words will eventually come. 🙂

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  15. “People who write for a living know writing is the worst. Printing is fun. Hitting command P is fun. Everything before command P is a nightmare.” Tina Fey at Content Marketing World 2018

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  16. I really liked this. The way you presented the difficulties a writer can face, while writing…yet it was skilfully written, it was a light read and I liked the tone of it, too. 👏👏👏

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  17. The same excess number of likes at the same predictable time of the early morning, with similar pages of synonymous themes of their own?
Oh, and only they’re only liking poems that “appear” to be about the temper of someone in particular, as though I struck a self absorbed nerve?


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  18. I love reading your posts. They are so down to earth. I felt led to write a book, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, the research and writing was exciting, and went pretty well. Then I found a fantastic local editor, and when she handing it back to me, I was dumbfounded! It took over 9 months to go through all the changes and felt like your trip to the dentist office post, with noting to numb me. It was a painful and boring process. So thanks for spelling things out.

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      1. It is not published yet. I have been unable to find one to take. I obeyed God when He asked me to write it, and am trusting Him to do it when it is time. In the meantime, I’m so excited to share what I am learning through my own Bible studies, with others through my blog. Thanks for responding!

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I’ve always wanted to be a writer too but I’m so insecure with grammar and words. I like write how I feel because then I feel less alone. Don’t know if my voice would really mean anything but I guess I should just try writing what I can just improve from there. Thanks for writing about the same struggles I feel towards writing.

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