One of the most important things I’ve learned as a health science writer is that what most people want to know is the easiest way to do everything.
The absolute minimum amount of exercise they need to do per week. The simplest recipes to prepare. The most basic skeleton of information about every disease they never want to have (and the easiest ways to prevent them all).
What no one wants to hear is that easy does not get you the results you want.
Not biologically. Not psychologically. And certainly not creatively.
Everyone wants to know how to become a writer. But they’re not interested in the process, or facing the challenges that come with it. (Perhaps you all are the exception. I knew I liked you for a reason.)
They want to know the fastest, simplest ways to write, publish, and market their books. The easiest ways to get the most possible traffic to their blogs. The simplest methods for finding an agent that will make all their dreams come true.
None of this is simple. Because before you can achieve any of these things, you have to sit down, take an idea in both of your hands, and squeeze, shape, and mold it until it becomes something semi-decent.
And then you have to do it again. And again.
There is no “hardest part” when it comes to trying to make a living as a writer. It’s all hard, in its own way. Maybe, deep down, we all know that. We just keep trying to find shortcuts. Keep blaming unrelated things for our lack of productivity. Keep creating obstacles when we should be making stories.
I’m just as guilty of this as you are. The other day I actually googled (is that actually a real verb now?) the minimum amount of words I could write and still call the finished product an ebook.
We aren’t lazy. Honestly, we’re just overwhelmed. There’s so much that goes into writing — so much more than “outsiders” will ever fully understand — that we just want ONE thing, ONE piece, ONE task, to feel like it isn’t going to suck the life out of us.
I’ve found that the
easiest most effective way to deal with this is to take the writing process one step at a time. I know everything feels urgent. It’s the curse of creativity.
But you have to start somewhere. And you can only put your feet at one place along the starting line.
So if you have an idea and you want to outline a little bit before writing, start there. If you’d rather yank all your teeth out than outline a single word, start writing. Get the foundation built first before you worry about what color you’re going to paint the bedroom walls.
That’s my take on it. I don’t know if it helps, but it’s gotten me pretty far since starting a blog at 16.
This stuff is tough. But it’s more doable than your self-doubt would like you to believe.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.