Monday, August 23, 2010

It Never Gets Easier

So I was reading Maggie Stiefvater's blog last night. She always has great advice, but this fabulous post about how to start writing a novel really hit home. It's supposed to be for those people just starting out, but I found it amazingly helpful even for the more "seasoned" writer.

You see, in some ways writing never gets easier. It's like this perpetual cycle of beginning from scratch. What you learn from book 3 may not work in book 4—in fact it might even RUIN book 4 and you'll have to rewrite large chunks of it. And then when you start your next project it's the same thing.

New story. New characters to figure out. New plot to construct. New ways to screw it up. New problems that require different solutions.

That's not to say writers don't grow and improve from practice. I'm just saying those feelings—of being overwhelmed, of not knowing how the story goes, of worrying about messing it all up—that happens to every writer with every book. And like she said, "real" writers push through it and finish the dang book. Then a lot of time goes into revising the mess.

As far as I can see, these feelings are fairly universal among writers both new and old, published and unpublished. Starting a novel is just plain hard. In fact, sometimes I wonder if it gets even harder as you go because you know that much more how big an investment it will be (often with little pay off). Try starting a book with that mentality and see how far you get, heh.

But if you want to write, sucking is part of the deal. I have to remember this constantly. I keep thinking that if I write long enough I won't make mistakes, but it's just not true. There will always be things to fix, stuff to learn.

We writers? We do hard things. We push forward when we don't feel inspired. We work when we want to play. We try when it seems like it'll never work out. That's how it goes.

But never fear, you have the whole of the writing community to comiser—I mean, uh, celebrate the joys of writing with. I think that's why, for the most part, we are very nice, understanding people, if I do say so myself.


  1. I just a second ago read Maggie's post and I agree, it's wonderful and helpful and sane for a process that is often anything but. I also agree that it sometimes gets harder the more beginnings we attempt.

    After so much agent feedback, my creativity/confidence took a hit and I had a hard time starting my current WIP. So, I went back to basics and wrote like eight beginnings just to remember that the words/direction/anything else about writing aren't set in stone and there are an infinite amount of ways to begin a story.

    Thanks for the post. It's good to know that we all struggle with the ups and downs of writing no matter at what point of the process we are. :)

  2. These posts always come at the best times--when I'm wanting to avoid the writing at all costs, I read your words and then remember it's not supposed to be easy. It's always a learning process.

    I also find that I'm often much, much harsher on my own writing than others are. I just got back a critique and was pleasantly surprised at all the positive comments. I know I have to work on balancing between the two extremes of "I am awesome and I rock at this" and the whole "I suck and will never be good enough."

  3. Amen to that.

    I think that what gets hardest for me as I go on is the world-building. I'm learning from past mistakes and I'm taking my time with it because there's so much to cover when establishing a world for your characters.

    Even in paranormal and urban/contemporary fantasy there's a dump truck full of stuff you have to cover and explain.

  4. Love this post! So true. Every novel I've written (and, er, that's going on six right now) has evolved in a different way, with a different method. I keep hoping I'll find one that works for them all but nothing yet!

  5. This is my first stop by your blog, and I'm really glad I did. How did you manage to write exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time? ARE YOU PSYCHIC?! I'll probably now haunt your blog until this manuscript is complete.

    WRITING IS HARD! Some days it's hard for me to see the silver lining and remember how much I love it, when it feels so.... worthless? Like a lost cause?

    Sometimes I really think we writers are certifiable. Maybe that's why I like us so much, anyway.

    Great advice. Thank you for it!

  6. Thank you. It is always nice to hear that it doesn't come anyone. Good to know.....very good to know. : )

  7. Are you sure it doesn't get easier? ;)

    Actually, this helps to hear. The first draft I'm working on right now has been harder than any other I've done in the past, which is not how I thought it would go. Still, it's good to hear all writers go through this, and that each books has its challenges and joys. Kind of like children...

  8. When it comes to starting a new book and character creation, I've never been short of ideas. The endings however...I think I dread it more because, secretly I know it's not 'The End'. Then come the revisions and the edits. However, the fact anyone still goes on, says the world about a writer. (Hugs)Indigo

  9. Thanks for this post. Although it's kind of sobering to realize it won't get any easier as I go on in my writing, I think it's that frustration level that pushes us to work for the best we have in us. If it wasn't there, good work would never be created.

  10. Not a writer but empathize with all of you who are. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears. I'll appreciate every book in the library from now on. A labor of love?

  11. Thanks for the post. And helping me realize it's okay if book 2 in a series is just as hard as book 1. And I thought it was going to be easy.

  12. Thank goodness for the writing community ... otherwise, I think we'd all go drown ourselves in the nearest vat of pudding.

  13. I love this post--so true! I believe part of the reason I love writing is because it challenges me all the time. It is NEVER boring! But that doesn't mean I don't feel like bashing my head against the wall every once in a while when things don't go right.