Writing Is Simple, But It’s Not Easy
07 Oct 2016

Writing Is Simple, But It’s Not Easy

07 Oct 2016

I’ve noticed something lately in the world of writing that makes me shudder: books, classes, apps, and subscriptions that guarantee to make writing — even the writing life — easier, faster, more efficient, less lonely, and 100 percent successful.

If writing were that easy, wouldn’t everyone be a writer? It’s like those miracle cures for weight loss and anti-aging that sometimes find their way into my web browser: if they really worked, wouldn’t everyone be young and thin? Or like a cruise ship promise to writers that they can have the all-inclusive package of happiness, meaning, and a life of words for one low price.

But what is that price? What does it cost to have it all in our writing? Only the truest parts of what make writing the thing we all long to do. You can’t be a writer without struggling — at least some of the time — through the slow, painful, tedious, isolating process of producing something masterful. And even then, the rate of rejection among writers is monumental.

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As I was thinking about the quest to make writing easy, I recalled the subtitle of my own book on writing that I co-authored with Ann Kroeker: On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts. Just how simple is the writing life? In our case, by simple we meant “not complicated.” Because the writing life isn’t shrouded in mystery or hidden in a puzzle. And writing is definitely not rocket science or brain surgery. Most writers do the same kinds of things over and over to build a satisfying writing life.

But with the word “simple” we certainly didn’t mean that we could make the writing life any easier for you. As Ernest Hemingway famously said, “It’s easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed.”

In fact, the easy thing, in the face of the blank page or too little time or a bleak track record of submitting your work, is to forsake writing altogether. “It’s easy, after all, not to be a writer,” wrote Julian Barnes. “Most people aren’t writers, and very little harm comes to them.”

But you don’t really want to do that. You don’t want to give up your writing life. You don’t want to be one of the billions of people who aren’t writers and will never be. You want to write.

So write. Write even though the progress is slow. Write even when you have to wrestle each and every word to the page. Write even if you spend as much time refilling your coffee cup or checking Facebook as you do composing sentences and paragraphs. Write even if you have to spend hours alone at the laptop. Write even if you just received another rejection letter.

Writing isn’t easy, but it’s simple. Writers write.

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“A genial marriage of practice and theory. For writers new and seasoned. This book is a winner.”

—Philip Gulley, Bestselling Author of Front Porch Tales and The Harmony series

On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts explores the question: is your writing life all it can be? Let this book act as your personal writing coach, to explore the writing life you already have and the writing life you wish for, and close the gap between the two. Gain insights through helpful stories from the authors’ established writing careers. Explore twelve simple (but vital) habits—through journaling, writing prompts, bonus activities, and discussion questions—that will help you build a more sustainable and satisfying writing life.

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