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Archive for the tag “writing”

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.



I’ve mentioned in a few posts that I subscribe to – AWAD (A Word A Day). Every week the words are based on a theme and this week’s theme is German imports (words). Starting off the week is a word I’ve never heard or seen used before but it’s meaning served as a further wake up call in my determination to write more this year.

The word is ‘sitzfleisch’, pronounced SITZ-flaish or ZITS -flaish. It is a noun and means;

1. The ability to sit through or tolerate something boring.
2. The ability to endure or persist in a task.

Synonyms would include having stick-at-it-ness, steadfastness, perseverance, indefatigability, resolution, endurance, tenancity, doggedness, unwavering and untiring.

There is a certain comfort one gets from hearing these words. They are strong words. If they were human they would be Roman gladiators in full armour. They paint a picture. A picture of something or someone who is always there, who can be depended on, who can be relied or counted on, who can be trusted to deliver. I would love to be described as having any of these words but none more so than ‘Sitzfleisch’ for having it is what separates the wheat from the chaff. In the words of AWAD, “It’s often the difference between, for example, an aspiring writer and a writer”.

If, like me, you fall into any of the following categories

  • You would like to change your designation from budding writer to best-selling author.
  • You have great ideas in your head but you are completely stumped when it comes to translating them to paper/computer.
  • Some days all you can do is stare at the blank page and not think of a single thing to write.
  • Writing seems like such a chore and you are tempted to chuck it all in.
  • You doubt yourself.
  • You worry about securing a publishing deal, finding an agent or anything else relating to publishing.
  • You would love to have some sitzfleisch.

You are in good company. Most, if not all, successful writers have shared these thoughts at one point in their lives. So here are some of their words of encouragement to help you along the way.

“You can’t wait for inspiration.  You have to go after it with a club.”  Jack London

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”  Richard Bach

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”  E. L. Doctorow

“Love the writing, love the writing, love the writing… the rest will follow.”  Jane Yolen

“You will have to write and put away or burn a lot of material before you are comfortable in this medium.  You might as well start now and get the work done.  For I believe that eventually quantity will make for quality.”  Ray Bradbury

“The only certainty about writing and trying to be a writer is that it has to be done, not dreamed of or planned and never written, or talked about (the ego eventually falls apart like a soaked sponge), but simply written; it’s a dreadful, awful fact that writing is like any other work.” Janet Frame

“Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day.”  Norman Mailer

“The mere habit of writing, of constantly keeping at it, of never giving up, ultimately teaches you how to write.”  Gabriel Fielding

“Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely essential.”  Jessamyn West

“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”  Mary Heaton Vorse

“Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing.  They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties.”
Bonnie Friedman

“Mere literary talent is common; what is rare is endurance, the continuing desire to work hard at writing.” Donald Hall



Thanks for stopping by and tara for now.

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