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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Is Writing Hard?

Is writing hard?  Let's begin by taking a look at the quote that sparked this question.

If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do. – William Zinsser

From Wikipedia-
William Knowlton Zinsser (born October 7, 1922) is an American writer, editor, literary critic, and teacher. He began his career as a journalist for the New York Herald Tribune, where he worked as a feature writer, drama editor, film critic, and editorial writer. He has been a longtime contributor to leading magazines.

I found this quote while doing some research online, and it made me start thinking about whether or not I agreed.  I've done some pretty hard things in life when it comes to earning a living, here are a few examples-

I worked in an animal hospital for a few years as the kennel boy.  I cleaned up a literal ton of dog and cat poo, cleaned the cages, and got bit and scratched on several occasions.  I also had to hold several dozen dogs as they were put to sleep.  Overall, this was not the hardest job I've ever had, but it was the dirtiest, and I was more than ready to move on when the time came.

I worked as a cashier at a drug store and had to deal with disgruntled customers, drunks coming to buy booze, and very sick people filling their prescriptions.  Again, not the hardest job on earth, but it definitely tried my patience and taught me a lot about dealing with people.

I went through Air Force basic training, which was pretty darn hard, and then served as an ICBM technician.  This job put me out in the middle of harsh Wyoming winters, where I had to work outside in sub-zero degree weather, wishing I was any place but there.

I've officiated at numerous funerals, including that of a young mother who died of a drug overdose and a six year old drowning victim.  I was honored to serve these families, but doing the job of a minister is often hard in a way that few people understand.

These are just a few examples, and I'm sure you have your own.  Now there are a few lessons that I've learned about work in general throughout the years that you'll probably agree with.

1.  Just because a job is hard, doesn't mean it's not a pleasure to do.

2. Who you are working with contributes or diminishes exponentially to the fun you have while doing a job.  If you're working with great, fun people, you'll enjoy what you're doing a lot more.  The opposite is also true.

3. If you don't enjoy what you're doing, you should move on a quickly as possible.  Life is too short to be spending time doing something you don't enjoy.

I don't want to get too much off point, so let's get back to the main question.  Is writing hard?  My answer is yes.  That is to say, it's hard to write well, at least for most people, and especially in the beginning.  Like anything else, some people are just natually gifted, the rest of us have to work at it.
In short, writing is easy, writing good is hard.

 There are a number of other things that can make writing hard, like dealing with comments from people who aren't all that diplomatic or constructive with their criticism.  But these are things that all writers must learn to deal with if they want others to read their work.

Am I a good writer?  I'm trying to be.  I think I'm getting better.  I'll never be the greatest, but I'm certainly not the worst.  But, I digress.  Let's look at that quote again.

 If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.

Zinsser is quoted as saying that writing is one of the hardest things people do.  I'm not aware of the full context of this quote, but at first glance, it's almost laughably inaccurate to me.  How about getting shot at for a living, or working in an emergency room?  How about being a teacher with a room full of forty kids who aern't interested in learning or being made by anyone to listen?  How about going to work at a fast food joint every day where you despise your job, but it's the best thing you can find right now and you have to feed your kids?  All of these things are hard.

If you're a writer, and you think that writing is hard, you should!  If you think it's one of the hardest things that people do, then you should stop writing immediately and go find another job or hobby.

Perhaps I'm taking this qoute out of context from the author's intention.  If so, it gives support to the fact that writing is hard.  It's not always easy to find the write words for the ideas and emotions one wants to convey.

At any rate, I have some writing to do on my upcoming novella.  I'm looking forward to it, because for me, even though writing can be hard, it's also a great pleasure!

How about you?  What are your thoughts about this quote?
What are some of the hardest jobs or tasks you've ever done?
Feel free to comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject!

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