When I read writers writing about writing, I usually get really confused. I feel like one of us must be doing it wrong, because their depiction of writing doesn’t seem to reflect the reality of what is probably the easiest job on the planet. So, just to keep myself sane, I thought I’d write down a few facts I have to keep reminding myself of about writing since I so often read the opposite.
Writing is not hard.
What part of writing is hard exactly? The part where I sit in a comfortable chair using my tiny fingertips to type in a climate-controlled room? The part where I can take breaks whenever I want? The part where I don’t have to commute to an office? Working construction is hard. Working retail is hard. Writing is not hard.
Writers are not brave.
When someone says a writer is brave I have no idea what they’re talking about. Unless they have actually served in combat, writers are not brave. Writing is not an act of courage. There is no heroism involved. Dredging up the worst and most humiliating secrets about yourself and displaying them in public involves several qualities — exhibitionism, a thick skin, self-awareness — but bravery is not amongst them. At all. (Exception: writers who face criminal prosecution are allowed to be called brave.)
Becoming a writer is not difficult.
You don’t need to take lessons, or go to workshops, or have a special writing space. You just need to write. That’s all. This is one of the few jobs that doesn’t require any training, a license, or a college degree. The barrier to entry is ridiculously low.
Writers don’t need to take a lot of breaks.
Writing is not a particularly strenuous physical activity unlike, say, building a dam. It is also not a particularly strenuous mental activity unlike, say, building a dam. You don’t even have to use math to write. So there’s no reason you should take a lot of breaks. You know how many breaks people with real jobs take during their 8-hour work days? Usually lunch and one 15 minute break every four hours. That’s about all writers need, too.
If writing is hard for you, there are plenty of other great careers.
Lots of people enjoy many different jobs. There are lawyers, doctors, firemen, graphic designers, masons, truck drivers. If you find writing difficult or have a hard time focusing, then it’s probably not for you. Instead of writing about how hard it is for you to write explore another career instead.
If you are procrastinating, that is a sign you should seek other employment.
If you do a lot of things to avoid writing then you should probably find another job. Most pilots love flying. A lot of doctors love medicine. Professional baseball players live for their games. Do you know what kind of people put off their work? People who hate their jobs. So if you’re avoiding writing, then it’s a good sign that maybe you want to be the world’s best Bioshock: Infinity player, or maybe you want to learn a lot of trivia you can tell people at a party, or maybe you want to keep up with the news. But what you don’t want to be is a writer.