Sometimes, if you talk to enough writers, you’ll hear one of them say something about a story writing itself. In short, what they mean is that the idea they have appears to them–or they’ve worked it over enough–that it seems to spring onto the page fully formed like Athena springing from Zeus’s skull.
This idea of a story springing forth fully formed and landing on the page in its final form is so appealing that it has become a sort of mythology among writers, especially since the great Romantic era of the late 18th century. In fact, this idea has taken so much hold, along with the idea of the solitary genius, that most writers, even ones who should know better, continue to believe it is true.
I’m here to tell you that it’s hogwash.
Writing, like any other great undertaking, is a painful and difficult enterprise more akin to building a road through a traceless jungle or or intractable desert than to the birth of a fully-formed goddess. Yet, it is the nature of that enterprise that forms the appeal for those who stick writing out.
I have found that writing, at least for me, is a form of asceticism, a forming of the mind–and even the body–into something that it otherwise would not be. For me, and I suspect for most writers, this process and experience may be worth more than the finished product itself.
So, if you are trying to write and it is hard, my advice to you is not to worry about it. There will be times when the words come easy. There will be times when the words come hard. But either way, the process will shape you, and as it shapes you it will shape the words. When it is through, you will have a masterpiece, both in your work and in yourself.
PS: If you want to read the final product of my NaNoWriMo 2011 effort, you can help make that happen by donating to NaNoWriMo and the Office of Letters and Light through my fundraising page. If I reach $250, I will post my story December 1st, and if I reach $500, I will also post an expanded version of my preview story January 1st.