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What They Don't Tell You About Writing

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What they don't tell you about writing is the massive chore it is, even for writers. Many times a week I sit down at my desk to write, but nothing happens. Although I enjoy the finished creation, the writing itself takes a whole lot of energy. It's utterly exhausting.

Sometimes, too, the words don't come. I sit at my desk, fingers poised over the keys, and stare at the monitor in helpless frustration. My mind is as empty as the processor before me--this is the infamous "writer's block" every writer learns to fear, I change the scene, the character, the point of view--nothing works. Nothing inspires me.

Whenever this happens, I tell myself I can't leave my chair until I write something. All I have to do is convince my hands to move. Even if my words are crap, what matters is that I'm getting down words. I have plenty of time to edit much later.

Writing is tremendous work. It's hard to make progress without taking breaks. The problem with breaks? They can derail your focus. The passage of time in itself is a nightmare. Five minutes go by and it feels like an hour. I'm surprised when I look at the clock. I'm also mortified. How could I have made so little progress in an hour?

What they don't tell you is that writing is work.

Some of the cliches ring truer than I'd like. Writers are often impoverished creatures fueled by caffeine and a shot at immortality. Some are fueled by drugs and booze. Some even take the plunge headfirst into addiction.

It's also true that writers usually suffer from depression at least once in their lives. Writers are observant, curious, and introspective. We see the bad things in society, and we see that no one is trying to fix them. We wonder why the worst things happen to the nicest people. We're spending so much time with our thoughts, we forget there is also a bright side to life.

Writers are more prone to notice little pleasures. We notice the young man helping the young woman. We see the woman carrying someone's groceries. Humanity has a silver lining. We can, with practice, see the love in this sad life.

What they don't tell you about writing--not enough, anyway--is that it can improve. You'll always be able to polish your work. There is always hope, no matter what. With a lot of practice, you'll get better. You'll soon be seeing the bright side of life.

Writing is an instrument for reconciliation. It soothes the dreamer, the creator, and the optimist in us. It reveals the context of humanity in the grand scheme of the universe, and it helps us come to terms with our temporary being.

More than anything, though, writing nourishes the soul.

What they don't tell you about writing is that it makes up both the pit and the pinnacle of human existence.

At the end of the day, that's what makes the work worth it.
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