Writing is a fucking ton of work

A lot of people out there — whether they are writing for fun or in some desperate attempt to make money (hahahahaha 😭) — know that writing takes a lot of effort. From research, writing rough drafts, editing, cutting, revising, fact-checking, etc., even a couple hundred words can take hours for an experienced writer to produce.

I recently finished an 800-word essay that took me a good 10 hours over the last two weeks to complete. And I look at my two pages of single-spaced text on my computer and I feel BAD — like really terrible. For the amount of work I put into it, it seems like literally nothing. But at the same time, I think the quality of those 800 words is…good? (Am I not crippled by self doubt for once?) It’s definitely one of the better essays I’ve written in a while, and the improvements I made from the rough draft to the current draft have been really awesome. Or at least I hope so.

But I still look at it and feel like I should have more. I feel like I should have dozens of short stories posted here and that writing should come easier to me.  But I also know I work for all of the words that I write. I agonize over whether to use “a” or “the” and the implication that can have on a sentence or even an entire piece. Writing isn’t just about putting words on the page, it’s about creating compelling arguments and intricate narratives. It’s about pouring yourself into your work, so your readers can hopefully pick up something you’ve written and find a little piece of you. Your words have to be good if people are going to read them, but good takes time.

No matter how much I wish it was true that I could bust out an 800-word essay in an hour or two, that’s usually not the case. If I were transcribing, typing words into a Word document without giving it much thought, I could write most things in less than 10 minutes, but I’m never just transcribing when I’m writing. I don’t have the exact words laid out in my head when I sit down to write, that I can just vomit up onto a page. I have to work for them. Some days it’s easier than others and some topics come more naturally, but it’s still work.

It’s at times draining and emotional work and I would never tell another writer that they need to be producing something faster, because I know how much effort goes into even a short piece. But I wish I could appreciate and remember the work I put into my writing and not just see a word count. I wish that people didn’t devalue my writing as if all I have to do is press keys on my computer in order to produce content. I wish I could get paid more for writing than I do. Because at the end of the day, I enjoy it, more than anything else, but it is a ton of fucking work.

 

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