Monday, May 19, 2014

Writing = Worth it.


Back when I was dancing/teaching, one of the things I used to tell my students is that when things are easy, we aren’t growing. It’s when we start to feel the burn in our muscles and we don’t think we can hold on any longer, is the only time when we’re growing stronger—improving our extension, gaining strength, refining technique.

I’ve found the same principle with writing.

I don’t think people really realize how difficult writing is. Not only the actual process, but the emotional process too. I once had someone tell me, “Oh, if you can write then I can too!” I laughed… I don’t think they meant it as a backhanded compliment, but it did make me realize that from the outside looking in, it probably does seem pretty easy.

But it isn’t.

Just off the top of my head, this is a list of elements we need to master:


Hook.
Pacing.
Compelling concept.
Original prose.
Unforgettable characters.
Conflict on every page.
Tight sentences.
Heart.
Clever imagery.
Action.
Humor.
Good dialogue.
Surprise.
Cliffhangers.
No clichés.
Gripping plotline.
Tension.
Showing, not telling.
No info dumping.
Weaving in layers.
Evoking an emotional response.
Themes.
Story arcs.
Voice.

And I KNOW the list goes on…

So I just wanted to say I’m proud of all of you. I’m proud that you choose to put yourself out there because it’s a scary thing to do. It’s scary not only to stretch ourselves and see if we’re capable of writing, but to then send our work out to betas and agents and editors… which will probably be ripped to shreds.


The more I learn, the more I respect great novelists. They make it look easy. Just like in ballet, a great dancer makes it look effortless. But we know the truth.  It takes hours of work and dedication. We don't often see the progress as we try to hold our leg up to our ear for that extra ten seconds or try to rework that chapter one last time, but slowly, often without our knowledge, we are growing and getting stronger in ways we can't even imagine. 

So worth it?  Definitely worth it. :)


Red. Head. Out.

43 comments:

  1. So worth it?

    I think that sentence should be "So worth it!" :)

    'Cos it really is and I had to laugh when I finished your list... I was nodding like a bobble head and then being Mr. Smarty Pants, I was like, "I need to ask Morg if she has made a list for the second page of WIP, too :)

    *Loved* the dance analogy, too... I'm not big into ballet, but you are so right... every time I've watched it, the dancers *do* make it look easy, but I can't imagine how many painful, lonely hours went into creating that move.

    PS... Thanks for the inspiring words, Morg, and I hope you know we're proud of you, too!!

    I, for one, am doing non-practiced happy dance moves as we continue to move forward on this journey of write :)

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  2. This is so true. It's amazing how many people think writers just sit down, whip up a book, and get it onto bookshelves without breaking a sweat. The process is HARD, and it doesn't ever get any easier. Good thing we love it! <3

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  3. That's why there is no such thing as a true overnight success - the effort and growth time has to be put in.

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  4. As someone who has a tremendous amount of respect for writers and their perseverance, I think it's crazy that anyone would think writing is easy. I think it's an art form just like painting, opera, etc. Would anyone say that those are easy?

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  5. So, so true, Morgan. Looking at the finished product, people can think we just spewed it out that way. Or that every time we look back on our earlier work we want to edit it again to reflect what more we've learned. *sigh* And don't even get me into how hard it is once you're actually published.

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  6. I hate that it *looks* so easy - we don't get much validation for our sweat and tears, do we? I think you're awesome Morgan! And though our journey isn't easy, I think it'll be so worth it one day :)

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  7. Your list of what we need to do actually makes me want to cry right now. :P But at least it gives me a reason (or about fifty zillion reasons, i.e. the items on your list :D ) for why I am struggling in revisions right now! ;)

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  8. Takes a ton to write indeed at ones feed, at least write right. But easy never gets anything done

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  9. You're absolutely right about every single word. As soon as you learn to plot, you realize your characters are flat. So much work and the learning and the practice never stops.

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  10. It's all the hard work behind the screen that no one sees that leads to the success. Not luck or chance. And it is really hard some days.

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  11. Yes. It takes a lot of work to make our writing look smooth, simple, easy. I'm proud of you, too. :)

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  12. Love it, M-Dog! I'm proud of you too.

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  13. It is a lot harder than people think, to be a writer. You really don't know how hard until you try it yourself.

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  14. I love this. And I seriously laugh when people are like - YAY I'm DONE! And I know it's their first draft, and all I can think is nope - you're JUST NOW getting started, lol.

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  15. I wanted to add/supplement your post (just a smidge) by saying that writing difficulty can be an overall symptom of communication #fail. Just to be clear, I'm saying that "communicating" is hard. I don't know how many times I've failed both in writing or in talking to "communicate" effectively. I agree with you 100%.

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  16. Very, very true.
    Great post, Morgan! Loved the dance analogy. :)

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  17. So true, Morgan. When I think about all that I've learned in this process and just how much goes into the writing of a story, I'm amazed that I've been able to even finish anything! Those who haven't attempted it really don't have a clear idea of how much blood, sweat, and tears goes into the process. Great post, Morgan! :D

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  18. Amen to all of this, which is why it's always great to talk to other writers because we know what this journey is like. People often tell me, "Oh, YOU wrote a book and got it published? I bet I could too." Like if my stupid ass could do it, then they surely could do it as well if not better. But you know, it's not just as simple as sitting down and letting word vomit spray your laptop. This stuff takes hard work and a LOT of thought!

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  19. Wow, that's quite a list:) I like the new look of your blog too!

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  20. Worth it.

    I once read that contentment is the death of art. We need to push, we need to strive, and grow. We need to challenge ourselves. Hard, yes. But infinitely rewarding. Much better than sitting on the couch wondering 'what if'.

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  21. Something like 80% of Americans think they could write a book. You know, if they wanted to.
    I'm sure that idea that it's easy is what makes people think those of us that do do it ought to be doing it for free.

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  22. Firstly, I really like the new look here at your place!
    Secondly, that list of elements is quite daunting... like a OMG moment...
    I've touched on a similar topic today...
    Writer In Transit

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  23. Hi human, Morgan,

    I know how eagerly you've been waiting for a comment from this celebrity dawg! Relax, your wait is over. Yay and arf! :)

    I so understand, my dear human friend. However, being a dog, a much loved dog, I never find writing difficult. The main thing is that I write at my own pace, when I want, without pressure. I put the letters together and form words that I hope reaches out to the one person or animal reading it. Pawsonally, I believe that's it's important to be intimate with writing and never type to an audience. My kind human, your list is notable and keep breaking down your writing into small, realistic segments leading up to the ultimate goal.

    You know, I try to tell my human how to write better. Alas, it's a slow process.

    Great pawst! Thanks for sharing! Following! LOL

    Pawsitive wishes,

    Penny :)

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  24. Absolutely worth it! Yes, it's hard. But we all know that feeling when you nail a sentence or capture the perfect word. When it all clicks, the sun shines on us and makes us realize that if we just keep swimming we'll make something beautiful out of nothing. What a rush.

    Your post reminds me of runners. I went to a CIF semi-final track meet this weekend. Some of the high school runners obviously struggled. Others made it look so easy. But whether the struggle was visible or not, I knew that what they'd accomplished was NOT easy. It had taken lots and lots of practice, dedication, and hard work to make it to semi-finals.

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  25. So true. Writing is not easy. I would dare to say no art form is easy, no matter how it looks for others. If you want to excel, there is hard work guaranteed. Always. Dragon hugs!

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  26. What a list. And yes, I love writing, and it is so worth it. Of course I wish some parts were easier, but it's the hard that makes it great. So worth it!

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  27. What a perfect list of elements, Morgan. Writing is damn hard!! And no one knows this better than a writer!

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  28. I adore this comparison so much. <3 Can't wait to see your work out there!

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  29. You nailed that list, Morg. And you're so right--SO RIGHT. It's huge what we're doing, it takes guts, it takes determination and resilience. You are an amazing demonstration of that, and I love the comparison to dance as well. Trail-blazing! :D

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  30. IS that what we do? HOLY CRAP! I am ready to drop, crawl to the nearest hole and throw myself in, just from reading that list of yours.

    Why did you have to BLATANTLY SPELL it out like that? WHY? Are you trying to give me a heart attack? I'm too young to die! Send white roses please...since you killed me, they are my favorite.

    ENOUGH INSANITY for one comment.

    You are correct. We work VERY HARD. Years in fact. With very little rewards, EXCEPT for the love an admiration from our peers. There is so much beauty in our well chosen words. Because they are real and heartfelt.

    A honest and beautiful post, Morg.

    I am proud to be watch your journey and growth as a writer...always keep your passion.

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  31. I don't even write books, and I find it hard to stare at the screen and write.

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  32. I needed this, Morgan. Thank you. <3

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  33. It DOES take a lot of work to make it to the top.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  34. That list is killer. I'm pretty sure I just hyperventilated. :) But who needs to breathe?

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  35. If I were to add one thing it would be stamina! My gosh. And this list I nodded through and got a little whiplash too!! Sweet sweet Morgs how i love thee. You're so good to yourself !

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  36. Done right, it looks easy to the rest of the world, but we who write know the truth.

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  37. Morgan, you took the words right out of my mouth: the more I learn about what goes into writing a good novel, the more impressed I am by all of you who do it so well. Kudos.

    Also, this lesson applies to life too-- we learn from the hard stuff.

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  38. I never thought writing was easy!
    I am drained everything I pour it on paper! And most of the time I'm not satisfied with what I wrote or how I wrote it.

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  39. Hi Morgan - great to have the analogy to dance ... and we won't be recognised (usually) until we've got something (the whole) right and then we can progress .. and finally be rewarded with peer recognition ...

    Everything takes its time .. all on different levels ... all at different spaces ... but we will all flourish ... and you certainly know the amount of work needed for various happenings ... your life has been full - and you're here setting examples for us ...

    Excellent read .. cheers Mrs Red Head .... happy week ahead .. Hilary

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  40. Bravo, Morgan! I love this post~ Yes, we need our words to dance on the page/the blog/the etc. It isn't easy, but you are so right-some people think it is!

    I need to tighten my writing muscles. Damn, here comes Ms. Punctuation! Happy weekend to you!

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  41. Very well put, Morgan. The writing process is quite like working out any other muscle, right? It needs stretching, strengthening, disciplining, training.... But yes, it is so worth it. I think we're all proud of you too. :)

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  42. It's a lot, isn't it? And it never stops. It's a constant evolution, which I think is cool yet frustrating.

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  43. Love the post, your new blog look, and YOU! Such great insight...it does seem rather easy, til you're on the front lines facing the enemy ("don't shoot til you see the whites of the page!").

    I don't know what happened to the month of May...or April. I think I posted a couple of shout outs for friends' books and that was it. Too much going on. So...I'm late to the party again. ;)

    Good post, Morgana.

    Brunette. Out.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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