Writing as Work

“I don’t know much about creative writing programs. But they’re not telling the truth if they don’t teach, one, that writing is hard work, and two, that you have to give up a great deal of life, your personal life, to be a writer.”

Doris Lessing

Writing is hard work. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking otherwise. Even when the muse is speaking clearly and the words flow, it’s still a struggle to keep up. And then, of course, there’s the distractions . . .

Writing is, by nature, a solitary activity. Other than sharing the end result, the actual exercise of writing is not one easily shared. For those of us with day jobs, writing must get squeezed in into lunch hours, between errands, and often into the late and wee hours of the day. It is a time that, unfortunately, cannot be shared with friends or family.

It is no wonder that many writers are alone, as the care and feeding of a serious writer is not for the faint of heart and spirit. A supportive group of friends and family members (ideally with some fellow writers in the mix) is sorely needed, but often difficult to come by. This is not to say that they don’t exist–only that they are a rare and cherished breed.

If you are a friend of a writer, or have one in the family, just try to understand them. Taming them is usually not possible, although they can often be sufficiently domesticated so that they are fit to live with others. There is, however, a tendency for them to return to their natural state of seclusion, so don’t take it personally. At times, all the company they desire is their muse.

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