Writing Every Day Is Hard, But Rewarding

by Randy Murray on June 15, 2010

Making your bed every day is easy. So is making your morning omelet. Even working out or exercising every day isn’t too difficult. But writing, that’s something altogether more daunting.

Any structured mental activity that requires focus and discipline, while not physically painful, can be extremely difficult. Why is that?

I believe it’s because while we are conscious while we’re awake, we spend very little time actually thinking. Unfortunately, this is fully evident when we’re talking. If you want to torture someone, record them while they’re talking about something, anything at length, and then play it back to your victim. While we may think we sound brilliant when we’re speaking about any subject that pops into our minds, hearing it played back is tantamount to waterboarding. Most of us, myself included, say the stupidest things and are rarely called on them.

Thinking, testing, and working out the ramifications of your words and ideas: all of that is extremely hard work. Writing is the one situation where if you’re doing it well, doing it right, you have to call bullshit on yourself. Frequently. You have to consider what you’ve thought, put it  down in the right words, and offer up to your readers. A good writer thinks, examines, and then thinks again.

Texting is not necessarily writing. It’s closer to speaking in its lack of review and consideration before firing it off. Email is pretty much the same. And the vast majority of what people put out on their blogs falls into that same category: un-reviewed, unconsidered, and unfiltered. All of that has its place, but it doesn’t make you a writer. When you want to clearly convey an idea or convince someone about something, you really need to be able to write. And that means being able to think.

If you want writing to get easier, do it every day. Do it as much as you can every day. And as with physical exercise, there are side benefits. You’ll probably find that you can think more clearly and, quite possibly, speak more coherently as well. Later recordings of you speaking might come to seem a little less painful. Why do you think that interviews with writers are often so much more interesting and entertaining than the ones with politicians, actors or athletes (unless those actors and athletes are also writers)?

Few are willing to commit themselves to this discipline.

Are you?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Wendy Hollinger June 15, 2010 at 10:12 am

Great post Randy. I also appreciate that you walk your talk - along with being interesting and well written, your post is grammatically clean. I find it distracting when writers haven’t taken the time to recheck their work before posting. If the blog’s about cooking or gardening it’s easier to give the author a pass for errors. But if a blog’s about writing, a proofer or editor might be a good investment if a writer doesn’t have the patience or skill for it.


2 Randy Murray June 15, 2010 at 10:46 am

Thanks, Wendy! A lot of the praise goes to my editor, Penny. I find it very helpful to work with a talented editor to make sure that my copy is clean AND my thinking is clear.


3 Jim Raffel June 16, 2010 at 6:37 am


Spot On. Writing after all is the doing part of thinking. I think as long as I am writing as much as I am I will never grow tired of that self serving saying. Your blog post expands upon that concept and explains why. Asking and then answering why is something we should all do in our writing more often. Thanks for that reminder.


4 Randy Murray June 16, 2010 at 7:33 am

I have heard it argued that one cannot think without writing. I don’t go as far as that, but I do believe that writing is a strong tool to help clarify thought.

So many of us have gotten into blogging. I think a new push to private diary or journal keeping and letter writing might also help us improve the quality of our thoughts and ideas. I have piles of journals from when I was a wee lad. I’ve fallen out of the habit, but I’ve been thinking about starting off with a fresh, blank book and working out more ideas before I inflict them on the world.


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