Writing is slow and painful for me, the two things that I dearly hope would not characterize the rest of my activities. The process goes something like this:

Light bulb! I want to write something about how writing is painful. Let’s see, how should I start? Maybe like this:

Writing is slow and painful for me, as I imagine it must be for a lot of people.

Hmm, is that true? Didn’t I read about a lot of people, writers mostly, who say that writing is their therapy? That not writing drives them nutty? Aren’t there people who feel a compulsive need to write?

Maybe I should just stick with my personal experiences and not try to extrapolate.

Writing is slow and painful for me.

Well, how dull. Might as well proclaim, “Nothing entertaining here, folks. Best get a move on.”

OK, how about if I just skip the introduction right now? That’s always a bit tricky anyway. How about some thoughts on why writing is painful?

Writing (let’s leave out the “for me” bit again; seems redundant) is unique in that it’s a painful process even though the outcome is, most of the time, satisfying.

Vague! If I didn’t know what I want to say already, I certainly wouldn’t get it from that sentence. What I mean is that the degree to which we enjoy an activity usually correlate strongly with how well we do it. If we suck at doing something, our perceived ineptness will condemn us to writhing in pain all the while we have to it. Clumsy? Well, you’re probably not going to enjoy dancing. Uncomfortable with being highly visible and feeling like you’re being judged? Public speaking is probably a nightmare for you. Write poorly? Then writing may well feel like putting your head in a vice and squeezing out droplets of crap onto the page.

Hmm, but how do I say all that in a cogent way? How do I write that?

Isn’t italics a bad way to emphasize something? Shouldn’t emphasis be understood from content and not form?

Do over.

My writing is, I think, not shabby, but writing is incredibly painful for me. Isn’t that strange? Don’t we, shouldn’t we, enjoy the things that we do well?

Hmm, aren’t I being conceited here? Do I know for a fact that I write well? Yikes, how uncomfortable.

Let’s just move on and say something instead of agonizing fruitlessly, shall we? Courage (in a Frenchie accent), my friend.

Is it possible to not learn not to dread writing if you already do? If it were a matter of gaining mastery over the subject and thusly acquiring familiarity, comfort, and affection for the thing, then how is one to gain such fluency? Read a lot? Get to writing a lot? No quick and easy way? Nothing for free? No pain, no gain?

Trite aphorisms never got anybody to do anything, least of all something they hate in the first place. And how unhelpful! To not be in pain when you write, you have to be in a lot of pain and write a lot now? Well, I’m glad people don’t try this perversity in too many things!

Ah, let’s just give up. Writing is painful. Don’t I have other things to do? Let’s do them instead.

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2 Responses to Writing

  1. Writing is totally slow and painful for me! And yet, I have a ton of blogs (not that I keep at them regularly). People say I’m a good writer, though I’m not convinced of that. Still, I write. And I actually have the urge to write these days. Doesn’t stop it from being slow and painful, though…

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