In honor of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and all my fellow writers in the world, I want to make an appeal to those who know and/or love a writer – please be patient, kind, and supportive. Writing is hard work.
People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing. That you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones about and come down in the morning with a story. But it isn’t like that. You sit in the back with a typewriter and you work. That’s all there is to it. ~ Harlan Ellison
Fiction writing is a complicated endeavor that takes both logic and creativity. The logical bit of brain arranges sentences into paragraphs into chapters, evaluates consistency, studies and amasses research, edits and critiques. The creative part of the writer’s mind builds complicated plots and subplots, constructs believable characters and motives, creates whole new worlds or presents the known world in a whole new way, and produces flowing verse. Somehow everything fits together in the end and keeps the reader engaged.
I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again. ~ Oscar Wilde
Non-writers may not know that their writer-friends sweat over nearly every word choice in their manuscripts. So many words, so many similar meanings. What will evoke the right emotion, set the desired mood? Too simple, too obscure, cliché? And then there’s the feel and the cadence of words strung together that must be considered.
Creative people are a lot like tigers. We do a lot of what looks like laying around and warming our bellies in the sunshine. Yet, what we’re really doing is powering up because, once we go after that first draft, those words can be more elusive than a gazelle that’s doping. ~ Kristen Lamb
The next time you observe your writer-spouse communing with the sky or lounging in bed longer than you think she should or staring at the computer screen without seeming to do anything in particular, realize creativity is still at work even when there’s no proof of it. Mulling over plot points, following a character through a scene, envisioning a setting or a world – these invisible story-building exercises engage a writer’s imagination long before the entire story makes it onto the page.
I think the writing journey is one of fits and starts . . . good days and bad days . . . times where you know you’ve nailed it and times when you wonder what ever made you think you can write. This is normal! This is why everyone always says it’s a tough road. Half the battle is dealing with your own mental and emotional responses to your situation. ~ Rachelle Gardner
Every writer I know, and many multi-published veterans I’ve heard speak, suffer from self-doubt to some degree regarding their writing. One writer might excel with setting and developing mood but struggles with character development. Another writes multi-faceted characters and awesome settings, yet he can’t come up with a storyline that goes the distance. Writers want their stories to shine, but the stories don’t always live up to a writer’s hopes and expectations. It could be a skewed perspective or perfectionism at work. It might be fear of failure. Or it could be that the writer simply needs to spend more time on his craft, or the current project, to reach that magical place of “It is Done.” Whatever the reason for doubt, the struggle is real.
The truth is, writing is hard work.
So please be kind to your writer friends and family members, especially those working on first drafts, whether under a self-imposed deadline like NaNoWriMo or that of a publisher. Encourage these writers when they doubt themselves and their abilities. Offer to help with errands. Bring them chocolate chip cookies for sustenance. And remember, supporting your local writer could mean the difference between ending up as a serial killer or a hero in her next novel.