“Writers are people for whom writing is more difficult than it
is for other people.”
I was sitting in a café at a book event with my friend and fellow writer David when one of the authors who was reading shared this quote with the audience. David and I turned to each other and talked about what a what a great statement about writing this is. Later, David emailed the quote to me so I’d have it.
How strange this statement seems at first glance — and yet how true it feels! Why should writing be more difficult for us as writers than it is for everyone else? Why shouldn’t it be easier for us?
I think the clue to decoding this statement this lies in the word “difficult,” which my handy Compact Oxford English Dictionary pithily defines as “needing much effort or skill to accomplish, deal with, or understand.”
Like any other creative discipline “much effort or skill” is needed to accomplish the work we do — the novels we write, the short stories we craft, the plays we pen. We think of and see ourselves as writers because words matter to us and we care about craft. And because we care more than most people do about how we write and what we write, it doesn’t come always come easily — we have to work harder at it.
But here’s the hidden joy in this: As my friend and mentor Rob Gilbert often observes on his Success Hotline (973.743.4690), there’s nothing more satisfying than tackling something difficult that you really care about. Isn’t that one of the sources of true pleasure in writing?
Precious moments of inspiration where words just flow out of us are a source of joy, it’s true. But equally fulfilling, in my experience, are those moments when you encounter a thorny plot point or a flabby transition or a lackluster ending and you fight through the problem you’re faced with until you solve it. Like Jacob, when he wrestled with an angel until it blessed him, sometimes we need to wrestle with our words until they bless us. And when we find the strength and persistence to do this, what a joy! Now that’s writing dangerously. And that’s why, though writing is more difficult for us than for everyone else, most of us probably wouldn’t have it any other way. Write on!