Before she wrote her memoir Wild, Cheryl Strayed penned an advice column under the pseudonym “Sugar.” In answer to a letter from a self-described “writer who can’t write,” Cheryl replied, “Writing is hard for every last one of us… Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.”
We sometimes associate activities being hard with them being unpleasant. But the two don’t go hand-in-hand. Mountain climbing is hard, but climbers don’t do it because someone is forcing them up the slope. Raising a child is hard, but many parents say it’s the most rewarding part of their lives. Learning a foreign language is hard, yet many of us decide to study a new tongue by choice.
Stretching our abilities, growing as a person, learning new skills – all of these undertakings can be hard. But they can also be enriching, fulfilling, and downright enjoyable. We often take on difficult endeavors like these not just willingly, but eagerly. We seek them out and look forward to them. We make them an important part of our lives.
Yes, there are times that writing is hard. There are also times when it makes you feel like you’re on top of the world, doing what you were meant to do. It’s possible for the feeling that writing is hard and the feeling that writing is fantastic to co-exist in you at the exact same time.
The next time you notice that writing feels hard, channel your inner mountain climber, parent, language student, or whatever metaphor works for you. View your writing as a challenge to surmount, or a richly fulfilling path, or a set of skills to master.
And if that seems hard, so what?