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 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.