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When the Work is Hard to Do
4/1/2014 5:31:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles

The computer screen glowed a soft white. I drew a blank. The writing work was hard to do.

No it wasn’t writer’s block. It was simply hard. Hard to press one more letter on the keyboard. Harder to mend together any more cognitive thoughts.

Writing is supposed to be fun. Not hard. But therein lies the misnomer. It is hard, and as I thumbed through yet another book on plotting, I wanted to just scrap the entire project.

This is how it is. Difficult. It’s why you hear agents and publishers refer to a manuscript from an author as “birthed.” Because it is! Months and sometimes years of hard work, revision, and thought go into every line penned on the page.

I’ve recently been reading On Writing by Stephen King. Though I am not a big fan of stories that scare me, I am definitely interested in learning from a man who has sold so many books, he can’t keep count anymore. There is wisdom in the success and longevity of King’s work. So when I read about his own writing difficulties, I didn’t feel so “under siege.” King referred to his work by saying he has a goal of 2000 words a day and if he doesn’t stick to that the newness of the story wears off. The fun fades, and as he says, “The work starts to feel like work, and for most writers that is the smooch of death.”

So true. As writers we hit snags. Life. Work. Family. When writing becomes hard, we shut down. Quit. And that my friends, is the difference in a writer and an author.

I attend writers conferences and read great pieces. The next step for me as an editor and acquisitions, is to request the writer submit the work. Those whom I request their work, jump eagerly from their seats and promise faithfully to send their work. As my momma says, “Don’t hold your breath Cin. It might not pay off in the long run.” Translated: The work never comes, but the excuses do.

“I’ve been so busy.”
“The baby was sick.”
“I needed to clean the garage.”
“Our cat had kittens.”

The truth of the matter is, writing became hard and rather than pushing through, many quit and lay the blame on . . .the cat. (Really?)

Writing is a craft and the mastery of any craft requires the three d’s: dedication, determination, and a do-it attitude. Like King, set a goal. Start out small. You can’t expect to write at lightening fast speeds in the beginning, but you need to write. WRITE SOMETHING. ANYTHING. Just write. When life gets busy, tough. . .keep on writing. Write because it is hard. Draw from the experiences of the moment. Pull emotions, words, phrases that express the difficulty and jot them down. They make great fodder. But what ever you do — DON’T STOP.

I have days words fly so fast my fingers can’t keep up. And then there are those times. . .I struggle to get ten words on the page. Still, I write.

Don’t let “hard” define your ability as a writer. Keep at it and as the saying goes, “When things get tough, the tough get going.”

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