Does writing ever get any easier? Sounds like the question of a beginner, doesn’t it? It isn’t. It’s a question that has tormented every writer at one time or another. I’m asking the question today as a writer of over 25 years who freelanced full-time for 10 years, has had several articles published, won several awards, have one novel finished, and another underway. Yet, I still pose the question: Does writing, good writing, ever get easier?
Logic says it should get easier with time and practice, right? After all, doesn’t everything get easier with time and practice? In most cases this is true, but I’m not sure that writing novels is one of them? Sure, we can improve the “writing process” and learn new writing techniques, grammar rules, tricks of the trade or sharpen our fundamental writing skills, but does crafting a story, a unique story, ever get any easier?
Think about it. Does it get any easier to develop deep, complex characters, interesting subplots, a captivating page one, intriguing dialogue, a compelling climax, realistic resolution or a memorable ending? Or, is our every attempt at a new story essentially the same no matter how experienced we are? Will we always face a painstaking task of wrestling through this ritual simply because that’s what writing is?
John Steinbeck (pictured above) seemed to think so. Today, I came across a letter written by Steinbeck in 1963. The letter was addressed to writers and in it he made this statement: “I have written a great many stories and I still don’t know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances.”
I consider this quite a revelation from the Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Grapes of Wrath. Earlier in this letter he states, “If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced that there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another.”
Writing and the writing process are undeniably mysterious. We can’t quite put our finger on how to capture the magic that a novel requires. While I’ll admit that elements of the writing process become easier as we become more accomplished, the essence of writing remains grueling work.
Writing a short story or novel that universally resonates with the masses will never be easy. We must labor over every word to craft a distinctive story while hoping to find that elusive magic that makes it memorable. In the meantime, like Steinbeck, we must approach every story the same way; simply write it and take our chances.
Your Turn: In your opinion, why is writing so difficult?
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