Writing Discussion: The Good, The Bad and The Tortuous


Photo credit: tonystl on Flickr
Not too long ago I turned the tables over to you lovely readers and asked whether or not you would publish traditionally if you had the chance. As the discussion there was absolutely fantastic, I’d like to extend another invitation for discussion.

This time, it’s about writing.

As a writer, it goes without saying that I (usually) enjoy writing.  Turning a wisp of an idea into a fully plotted, tangible novel is an incredible experience and I love so many things about it—from discovering new characters and worlds to surprising yourself with an unexpected plot twist, to watching a skeletal first draft develop into a complex, nuanced novel—writing can be truly amazing. This is the good.

But writing can also be an excruciatingly difficult experience. There are days—weeks, even—where it’d be easier and more enjoyable to sit through 48 hours of Teletubbies re-runs in the desert while attempting to find a particular grain of sand (don’t ask why there’s a television in this desert. There just is.) than to write a single paragraph. Or sentence. Or word. This is the bad.

There are moments when you look at the WIPs you’ve been slaving over for the last x years and wonder if you’ve wasted your time, if you’ll ever get published, if it’s worth spending another minute trying to do this writing thing. There are times when you’ve rewritten a manuscript three times and you think you’re finally finished, only to receive an edit letter or critique that requires you to rewrite it again. Then there’s rejection. Form “thanks but no thanks” letters. Manuscripts piling up in your drawers. Amazon e-books that don’t sell.

This is the tortuous.

No, writing isn’t all mounds of sugar, rainbows and bunnies, but to me, the good far outweighs the bad. I’d happily slog through a couple more decades of doubts, rejections and shelved manuscripts just to experience the joy of discovering a new story and meeting new characters and knowing those words marking the page are mine.

There’s something special about that. Something I won’t ever give up.

What do you think? What are the good, bad and tortuous parts of writing that you’ve experienced?

16 comments:

Matthew Rowe said...

Writing is like life: long, torturous, full of doubt and worry, and  also wonderous, but with writing you get something at the end of it. So therefore I like writing more.

Ava Jae said...

I agree. The final product after those arduous months (or years) makes the torturous bits worth it. 

Matthew Rowe said...

Yup. I think you have to expect bad things and hardship, and people do, we just slug through it, but when you find what gives you that one glorious moment, you can't give it up, because life would be nothing without it. Its very hard to get that feeling! 

Daphne Gray-Grant said...

I have eliminated torturous writing from my life! I have two big secrets: 1) mindmapping, and 2) careful scheduling. I always mindmap before writing ANYTHING. (I offer a free booklet on mindmapping for subscribers to my newsletter: www.publicationcoach.com). I also work on assignments well in advance and try never to write before I've spent at least a day THINKING about what I'm going to write. Finally, I never edit while I'm writing. That's a separate job that I leave for later. As a result, I now find writing a pleasure instead of torture!

Alice M. said...

Spelling Nazi here, poking my nose in to yell "t-o-r-t-u-o-u-s" -- then running away before I get spattered with buckshot.

Ava Jae said...

You know...and I checked it, too. Lol thank you, Alice. :)

Author Steven said...

Couldn't have said it better myself Ava. :) I am currently in the tortuous stages but I look at it as a challenge (sort of). Usually I don't get dismayed like that WHEN I'm writing, but I get it all the time before I write while I think of the idea and outline. Great post as usual! :D

~Author Steven

Ava Jae said...

Thanks, Steven! I too find that looking at an obstacle as a challenge can make things easier (mentally, anyway). :)

Susankayequinn said...

This is why, no matter what the problem, the writing is always the answer (for me). Writing centers me, brings me back to why I love the art, makes me feel whole again. 

Dalya Moon said...

It's funny to read this post today, because I think about quitting probably once a day, twice on the bad days. I always start back up again, but yesterday I was threatening to set some sort of external goals for quitting. I'd never quit entirely, but I'd probably kick back and drag a book out over three years instead of my current hard-working pace.

Launching a new book, though ... that's addictive! If only there weren't so many words and edits in between book launches!

Ava Jae said...

Love it. Thank you for sharing that, Susan. 

Ava Jae said...

I've personally never done a book launch, but it certainly sounds exciting. :D

Yesenia said...

I think I'm in the tortuous stage myself. But I just can't stay away. I must write. These stories won't go away! I think for me the hardest part is beginning...then finishing! lol

Ava Jae said...

Both beginnings and endings can present their own challenges, but in the end some stories demand to be written and won't let you rest until you've typed the words "THE END." :)

Ara Grigorian said...

Another great topic, Ava. I experience all of these emotions, all the time -- sometimes simultaneously. It seems to me that experiencing these emotions is what makes writing a magical process. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Ava Jae said...

Agreed, Ara! The ups and downs are all part of the process, and I for one believe you appreciate something that you have to work for much more than something that's given to you. 

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