“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Frederick Douglass
Ah, struggle! That’s a word we creatives, we writers, we strivers, could all do without, isn’t it? Who wants to struggle, if they can help it? So much easier to take it easy, to give things up when they become a struggle — when they resist giving us the satisfaction we want.
And yet. And yet. As my good friend and mento Dr. Rob Gilbert says, there’s nothing more satisfying than wrestling with something you truly care about. How true I’ve found this to be in my own life! And if you think about it, maybe it’s true for you as well.
Why? Because as our friend Frederick says so well, without struggle, “there is no progress.” Struggle is like the irritant in the seashell that creates a pearl. Or the pressure on carbon that, over time, creates a diamond. Without struggle, there’s no growth, pure and simple.
Think of a novel you love — and think of the conflicts you found riddling its pages. What would a story be without conflict? An empty shell. It’s conflict that propels a story forward — that makes things happen, forces decisions, and raises consequences. And the bigger the conflict, the bigger the story. As in art, so in life.
Right now, you may be struggling with something big or small in your writing life. It may be a thorny plot point or a ragged paragraph — or something tougher to handle — a character that’s lackluster or pacing that’s sluggish, or complexity that might be confusing to readers because you haven’t done your job well and expressed it simply. Been there and done that!
Whatever it is, if you care about it, then it’s worth wrestling with. And the tougher the struggle, the sweeter the triumph when you finally figure it out and get it right. Like Winnie the Pooh stuck in a hole with a honey pot — at the end of the struggle, there’s a sweet reward — a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that’s oh, so fulfilling!
So let’s raise a glass to struggle. Let’s be like Jacob who wrestled with an angel and received a blessing in return. Write on!