Inspiration. As writers, we’ll take it anywhere we can find it, right? Where do you find it? Well, you can find it just about anywhere but the most reliable place is in another writer’s words. When I need a spark of inspiration, I’ll talk to another writer, read one of my writer’s magazines (Writer’s Digest, The Writer, Writer’s Journal, or the Christian Communicator), or read a classic piece of work by one of the masters.
Yesterday, when I needed a jolt, I came across this quote by Samuel Johnson, English author, essayist and editor.
“What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.”
It didn’t strike me at first. It was a slow burn, like a branding iron, but its effect was penetrating and permanent.
I suppose inspiration, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, so let me share a few thoughts on why I found inspiration in his words. This quote succinctly reinforces the writer’s responsibility to the reader. As writers, we have an obligation to the reader; an obligation to show up for work and write with energy, passion and discipline. An obligation to write, rewrite and rewrite again. The goal? To produce our best work and make the experience “pleasurable” for the reader.
The reader can tell the difference between our first draft and our finished work. It honors you, the writer, every time a reader reads your work. So honor on the reader with your best work. Every time a reader picks up one of our articles, novels, or non-fiction books, they invest in us, encourage us and most importantly, expect us to deliver on the reputation we’ve worked so hard to earn.
The other day a friend of mine commented on an article he read. “I read a great article yesterday,” he said. “It was very well written, so easy to read. He must be a very good writer to write so clearly,” he concluded.
I responded by saying, “Or, he is a very disciplined writer. The easier an article is to read, the harder the writer worked to write it.”
Samuel Johnson was right. My friend found “pleasure” by the effort of the writer.
As I ponder the quote above I’m not only challenged by the reminder of the writer’s responsibility to the reader, I’m inspired to choose my words carefully and be the best writer I can be.
Still, what is the beauty in finding inspiration in another writer’s words? It reassures us that one day someone will find inspiration in ours.
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