The Wordsmythe's Weblog…

…On Words, Love and Life

Painful pleasure or pleasurable pain

I’m not sure if writing comes easy to any writer but I know that it most definitely doesn’t to me. Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments. Those times when ideas, inspiration, time and all the other ingredients that make writing a delight conspire to form a magical combination for a winning recipe.

At times like that, my adrenal glands send a surge of adrenaline into my blood stream, causing my fingers to fly across the keyboard at the speed of light. Thoughts and ideas, over-eager to be crystallised, tumble out in an abundance of concise, meaningful words. My otherwise elusive muse works overtime supplying oodles of inspiration while seconds, minutes and even hours flow seamlessly, one into the other, in tandem with my creativity .

When the above happens, writing is such a delight and I wonder why I don’t do it all the time. I wish I could summarise my entire experience of writing in this way however, the truth is these times are few and far between for me. They are more the exception than the rule.

More often than not, I find writing tedious, laborious, tough-going and a hard slog. An idea makes a fleeting appearance in my head but when I sit to flesh it out, it proves as cooperative as an eel in stilettos. I struggle to find words that accurately convey my thoughts. In dialogue, the words are stilted, forced and lacking in emotion. In narrative, they are flat, unconvincing and far off the mark.

At those times, I am reduced to checking the word count feature of my word processor every so often and the measly sum total of words I’ve written make a mockery of the effort and time I’ve expended. The clock ticks away ever so slowly, every passing second magnifying my anxieties.

It is then that I question my sanity and wonder why I afflict myself in this manner. I have come to the conclusion that possessing a certain amount of masochism is a prerequisite for writing.

Writing is like childbirth, painful, almost traumatic yet I find myself doing it again and again. It can be arduous yet so very fulfilling and satisfying when completed. It is like an itch, the more I scratch, the more it itches. Writing is an act of folly; a fever that won’t abate so I just have to ride out. It is like a drug addiction, a high I am reluctant to ever come off.

As painful and as difficult as it sometimes is for me, like a moth to a flame, I am drawn to it time and time again. I find that if I persevere and push through the tedium, it gets better, easier and less of a chore. The end result may not always be as scintillating as I hope but I still get immense satisfaction from it. So for good or for bad, I will keep on writing, who knows, maybe a time will come when it will become easy. I live in hope.

I don’t write because I want to, at least not all the time. I write because I have to. I have to scratch that itch, bring down the fever, rid myself of the folly and get off that high.

In the meantime, I take comfort in the knowledge that some more accomplished writers also experience/d this painful pleasure so I’m in good company. Read what they have/had to say about it. Enjoy and thanks for stopping by.

“Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” Gene Fowler, American journalist, author and dramatist.

“Writing is a dog’s life, but the only life worth living.” Gustave Flaubert, French author of Madame Bovary.

“The desire to write grows with writing.” Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch Renaissance humanist.

“A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” Thomas Mann, German novelist.

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” Nathaniel Hawthorne, American novelist.

“There is no way of writing well and also of writing easily” Anthony Trollope, English novelist.

“I like myself better when I’m writing regularly.” Willie Nelson, American country music singer-songwriter.

“I enjoy writing but I much prefer the experience of having written.” Fareed Zakaria, American-Indian journalist and author.

“Writing is pretty crummy on the nerves.” Paul Theroux, American travel writer and novelist.

“Let’s face it, writing is hell.” William Styron, American novelist and essayist.

“The drudgery of being a professional writer comes in trying to make good days out of bad days and in squeezing out the words when they won’t just flow.” Benjamin Cavell, producer and writer.


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One thought on “Painful pleasure or pleasurable pain

  1. Chi-Chi on said:

    Lovely article. Encouraging to see the range of writers, including yourself, that are challenged by writing. We have to get used to the fact that nothing is really easy – surprisingly, not even the things that we love. So don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you tackle your goal (word of advice to myself). Just do it.

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