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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

 

Why is writing _____?

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult - Thomas Mann

Last week when I was searching Google about this post, I typed in "Why is writing ... " and the algorithm automatically responded with two words: "so hard." Exactly. That's just what I was thinking. Why is writing so hard?

While texting a friend this afternoon, my husband asked why I was sending such a long text.

"It's not that long," I said, "I keep rewriting it."

He then asked how long it takes me to write a text.

"It usually takes a while," I said. "I don't think I've ever written a text and sent it without rewriting, editing and/or sending an addendum."

"I guess you feel pressure as a writer to write everything well."

That's putting it mildly. I always feel pressure to write perfectly, to make my words ebb and flow and create a melody so beautiful that it literally transforms a person. Sometimes it's overwhelming. I overthink almost everything I write, including social media posts and comments to social media posts. But it started a long time before social media existed.

Many years ago I was at my aunt's house for a family gathering, and someone brought a birthday card for my cousin who had recently moved out of town. The card was being passed around for everyone to sign, and as my brother gave it to me he said, "You're a writer, I bet you'll write something great!"

As soon as those words left his mouth and reached my ears, they travelled to my brain and immediately proceeded to shut off every ounce of creativity I had. Too much pressure. I sat there for quite a while reading the other comments on the card like "Have a great day!" and "You're only as old as you feel," and "Have fun, but not too much fun!" And I tried to come up with something original, witty, and writer-ly. And I had nothing. So I passed the card to someone else, thinking the perfect phrase would come to me any minute.

A couple of hours later, as I left her house that evening, my brother asked me what I wrote on the card.

"Happy Birthday," I said, embarrassed. We both laughed.

Why do you think writing is so hard?

Mary


Mary Horner teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges. She is the author of Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing, and a freelance writer and editor.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Sioux Roslawski said...

Mary--I think one of the reasons is that it can always be improved. A minute later, we can revise a piece of writing. Later in the day, the same thing. The next week, we can again completely revamp it. Also, there are so many words to choose from and countless combinations of words to consider.

3:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can totally relate to being put on the spot to create some amazing greeting. It's so hard because we work and work on sentences so much that to just pull one out of the air is damn near impossible. Thanks for a great post.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

I think writing is so hard because we have certain expectations of ourselves as writers. But I've found that no matter how much time I spend revising, usually the first thought is the best. :)

1:58 PM  
Blogger Mary Horner said...

Thanks for your support! Regardless, we keep at it because we love it!

6:49 PM  
Blogger Renee Roberson said...

Writing is hard for me because I don't prioritize it the way I should. I put my editing and non-fiction gigs first, and then I get tired and feel like I don't have anything creative to say. I also put a lot of pressure on myself that I'll never be able to write like a best-selling author. I'm horrible at writing greetings on cards, too ;-)

6:34 PM  
Blogger Mary Horner said...

Thanks for the comment, Renee, and I understand completely because I do the same thing! This is just one reason writing is so hard!

6:17 PM  

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