Does Writing Get Easier Over Time?

By on October 12, 2016
Does Writing Get Easier Over Time? - Writer's

Are you struggling through that first novel? Perhaps you have just finished and are basking in the glow and the glory of finally having made it to the end? Maybe you are just getting started and having a tough time knowing where to begin?

Whatever stage you are at in your writing, the likelihood is that you will, at least during some stages, find it pretty tough going.

It’s also true that you have probably told yourself there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

This applies in particular to novel writers (though can, of course, be applied to any writer, writing any work). It is so easy to believe that once you have got through your first book the entire process will become so much easier.

The truth? I hate to break it to you, but it doesn’t.

In fact, there are all sorts of fantastic added pressures that comes with writing a second novel, and a third, and a fourth (you get the picture). If your first novel flopped then, the stakes are even higher to ensure that this next one is a success. If it did well then, it is pretty crucial that you don’t let your agent/publisher/fans/self down.

Logically you would think that the more your practice, the easier writing gets. But when you are doing it, it never quite seems to be that effortless, stress-free pastime that you so wish it could be.

There are several reasons for this.

For a start, as with any skill, if you want to get better you have to do it more. But if you want to get better you have to keep upping the ante, making the challenge tougher, and taking yourself out of your comfort zone to try new things. An accomplished musician doesn’t pass their grade one and only stay at that level, they work harder; they master more challenging pieces of music, they keep learning and improving. The same goes for athletes, artists, singers…any learned skill. Writing is just the same, so if you keep at it, it won’t get easier, but you will get better.

Each and every time you sit down to start a new piece of work you have to repeat the same process over and over again. While you may gain a better understanding of the process itself, the undertaking of it remains consistently challenging.

Developing complex, engaging characters, a riveting plot, a dialogue which sings seamlessly from the page - none of these aspects of writing get easier with time. Each time you begin again you are essentially back to square one - each story must be unique, and the same time, care and attention were given to your very first as to your very last.

“I have written a many great stories and I still don’t know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances.” John Steinbeck 1963.

The writing process is mysterious and challenging, and each and every writer has their individual hurdles to face. Because writing is such a unique (and wonderful) thing it is almost impossible to formulate an exact recipe to create an excellent piece of writing - and therefore writers often just have to sit down, get on with it, and hope for the best.

Readers are also mysterious and confusing creatures and keeping up with their whims and fancies is a whole different challenge of its own! While some writing is, of course, timeless, there are also fashions and phases and while what you wrote five years ago may have been received to great acclaim you may find readers tastes have moved on - so you need to go with them.

However, never fear writers! There is no reason to be disheartened. A life without challenges would be very dull indeed. Understanding, and accepting that writing may never get any easier means that we can let go of the struggle to make it so or the worry that we are not improving or learning. You only need to take a look at your writing over the years to see that you have discovered and accomplished a lot.

Just because writing isn’t easy doesn’t mean you can’t get better at it, and surely that is the most important thing?!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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