Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 11, 2014

Does Writing Get Easier?

For 22 years, my father and I took the same 2-mile walk in the evenings. Since this walk was meant for exercise, not as a stroll, the route included 3 of the most brutal hills in our neighborhood. And they were killers—very long, very steep, and one right after the other.

The weird thing was, in 22 years the walk never got easier.

We would have thought that at some point we would have been in such good shape that the hills would have become easy. But they never did. We chugged our way up the same way every night.

Sometimes writing feels that way—like it never gets any easier.

That feeling is true—and it’s false.

Writing doesn’t get easier—it’s just that the parts that are hard change. When we first start out, the amount of craft we have to learn is tremendous. As time goes by, we master this bit, then that bit, then another bit. And slowly those bits get easier. But there’s always another bit that needs work, so the process as a whole doesn’t seem any easier.

I realized this while I was working on my WIP this weekend. I’m almost at the midpoint (yay!), and I am writing in full on first-draft mode—knowing some of the scenes weren’t great, but just getting them on the page. And that was the revelation—I knew as I wrote which scenes were going to need help. I could sense which ones had weaknesses, and sometimes even what those weaknesses were—description, specificity, conflict.

That knowing feeling was new for me. I usually couldn’t tell until I went back to revise what problems I had—or even that I had problems. So I guess I have finally internalized enough to reach a new sense of craft.

Maybe someday I will have internalized enough of the craft that I get more stuff “right” in the first place, making the revision process shorter and cleaner. But I’m still not sure that will make writing “easier.”

I think it will just be a new level of hard.

What about you? Has your writing gotten easier over the years?

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  1. I laughed when I read your first two paragraphs.I take the same walk every morning and the hill that I climb just before I get back home never gets easier. Neither does writing, but at least now I know I can do it, even when the words don’t come easy.


    • Whether its the walk or the writing, at least we get to the finish line–and that’s always something to celebrate!


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