Friday, April 15, 2011

There is no easy way

I haven't blogged much about this, but over the past 7 or 8 months I've been working at losing weight. So far I've lost about 40 lbs. I keep running into old friends who are impressed with the changes I've made and all of them, without fail, ask me one question:

"How did you do it?"

Two things. The first is called a treadmill. Second, I learned to like salads. Yep, that's right. I'm exercising and learning to eat right.

"Oh." They reply with a disappointed sigh.

The turning point for me, when I first started trying to lose weight, was realizing that there is no "easy" way. I know people want me to tell them that I just took magic pill #53, then sat back and ate potato chips as I lost weight. That doesn't work (and for the record, I have not even tasted a potato chip in over four months now. Hopefully the twitching will go away in time ;-) ).

The same thing happens with writers. I finish a novel or complete X number of words in a day/week/month and they all ask me:

"How did you do it?"

I sat my butt in the chair and pounded on the keyboard for three or four hours every day, that's how. Just like when I'd get home from work then turn around and walk three miles on the treadmill, I made myself do it. I didn't let myself make the excuse of saying "well I just don't feel like it." Seriously, who actually LIKES getting all sweaty and nasty and out of breath? Not me. Who LIKES sitting in front of a computer for hours trying to mend a plot hole without ripping three new ones open? Not me. I would much rather have the story magically come to me and write it perfectly the first time. I'd also like to eat a whole bag of potato chips in one sitting. None of theses are realistic or healthy.

Writers are good at trying to make everything "just right". They have rituals and lucky items and special paper. I've seem people pay enormous amounts of money on computer programs that say they if you buy them then you can finally get that novel written. Like it will somehow magically do the hard stuff for you. Theses programs my help some people, but you still have to put in the work. And believe me, writing a novel is a lot of work. If anyone tells you otherwise they're a) More delusional then is healthy (even for a writer) or b) Lying through their teeth. But if you accept the fact that, at times, writing isn't going to be bliss and sunshine, that you're actually going to sweat a little, then it makes things a lot easier. You will know that when you come to a hard part and have to push through it that it's OK. That's just a natural part of writing. There's nothing wrong with you. You're not doing something wrong. You don't need that fancy new program or shiny new pill to make it all better.

Pain and struggle are just part of the proses. Push through it and keep going. Never give up. Then one day you'll go to the store and realize that you can ware pants that are three sizes smaller then the ones you wore last year or you'll look down and see the completed manuscript on your desk.

It's not magical. It's sweat and tears and some paper cuts and more then a few blisters.

Like they say: No pain no gain.


  1. And here lies my problem!!!! Self-imposed structure is something I fail at every single day. In these two areas in particular!

    You hit the nail on the head, my dear! I feel so exposed. :)

  2. This is by far the BIGEST thing I hear from people. So you're definitely not alone, Tana ;-)