I Wish I Could Tell You It’s Easy

I wish I could tell you that it’s easy. It isn’t. I wish I could say it’s okay to take a month off, a week off, a day off, and just be. You can, of course, but you won’t be improving. Every day that you spend without writing, or reading, or editing — working on your craft — is not just time wasted; it is sliding backwards down the icy slope. It is working your creative engine to its max, gunning it, shifting into a lower gear of expectations, only to relax just as you can begin to see the rise ahead. Then, while you sun yourself, Corona in hand, you slide backwards, just a bit.

If you are a writer, and you are not writing, you have missed more than an opportunity. Each day, we change. Some will tell you they are imperceptible changes, but they are wrong. The changes are noticeable, real, and permanent. What you write today, you will not be able to recreate tomorrow. Life occurs and we respond to its vicissitudes.

When it rises, we are cheered, and perhaps a bit of optimism leaches into our words. When life falls, taking us with it, our attitudes fall with it. Daily laughter creates humor, whose blooms linger no longer than a rose’s. The next day, or week, when we try to recreate the smile, in our work, the bloom has gone, and the humor no longer works.

We mean to write a comedy, but it comes out in tears.

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So you  must pluck your flower each day, as they will never come again. Don’t believe me? Then try an experiment. Write a brief story or essay, on any topic. It doesn’t have to be long, a few paragraphs to a page. Then, once the story is done, set it aside for a week, and don’t look at it again.

Once a week has passed, take your topic, and try to write the same story. Don’t worry about memorizing it, that’s not the point. Pick the same subject, and write it according to how you feel that day, that minute. In effect, you are editing your previously written prose without looking at it.

I think you will be very surprised at the differences. And that is why writing is hard, why art is hard. It is tantamount to painting a landscape while in a moving car. Not only does the view change, how we react to what we see changes.

No, it isn’t easy, and if you’ve done no work today, you’re behind. Every day, get a little better. Do the work. There is no other secret.

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19 Replies to “I Wish I Could Tell You It’s Easy”

  1. No offense intended, but this sounds a little like “Tote that barge, lift that bale, get a little drunk and you land in jail”. I know that nothing worth having or doing well, comes easy, but what about joy. Do you find no joy in writing? I’m not a writer, I am a polymer clay artist and I find joy in creating things from clay. I have days that my hands simply will not cooperate with what my mind sees and wants. Those days, I sit on the porch with a glass of iced tea and look for inspiration. Whatever works for you Bill, keep writing, I’m still reading.

    1. I wasn’t writing about joy, I was writing about doing the work required to be good and to be successful. If you don’t get joy in doing the work, then STOP NOW, and never do it again. I’m sure there are people who can write sporadically and do it well. I’ve never read one.

  2. Dude, this is so dead on. I find that I can’t write the same thing from one hour to the next. We are constantly reprogramming our minds and thus we are always different.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants. I haven’t been writing enough lately. I’ll get back at it, you fierce taskmaster, you. 😉

  3. I have noticed that writing for me is just cathartic. Not really something I excel in but something I enjoy and makes me feel at peace after I have banged the keys awhile. My photography is where I need to be out all the time…living daily. 🙂

    1. Yes, everyone should set their own pace for any endeavor. I was writing about those who mean to make this a career. There’s a reason full-time jobs are 5 days a week. That’s how long it takes to be good.

  4. Me too, I have been slip sliding away since that bloody writing course knocked me back. I do need to get back to the work again.. have a lovely day darling.. c

  5. spot on, Bill…it takes practice for the craft to move toward perfection. Confidence builds as we keep moving, striving and enjoying 🙂

  6. Bill, this is well said. When you practice your craft everyday it brings more clarity to your technique, which brings creativity and refinement. As a jewelry artist I have noticed that I begin building creative and problem solving blocks when I am not in the studio often. I also become frustrated and have less enjoyment in what I am doing. To do something everyday is to also build inspiration and passion for your endeavor…in essence, creating happiness! Thanks so much for taking the time to write this entry 🙂

    1. Allyson, thanks for your feedback. It’s heartening to know that people in other endeavors experience this too. I think people fear “everyday” means dedicating your whole life to something. Instead, I think it means accepting it as an important part of who you are.

  7. “If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”
    ― Charles Bukowski 🙂

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