“Love hurts,” said Nazareth, and so does writing

1

January 4, 2013 by bradcharlesbeals

Writing is one of the hardest crafts in which to improve. We go at it out of a position of comfort. It makes us feel good. After all, with what other work does an hour’s indulgence feel like a fix?

So it’s quite easy to get comfortable in the activity of writing, and even in the identity of it since anyone can call him or herself a writer and require no objective confirmation like, say, a paycheck. That’s the sense I get of this community as I venture out into social media (I’m 45, stubborn, relatively new to phones without wires). They like their writer’s lifestyles–good wine, enviable locales, yoga. And they like their voices and free-thinking ways.

And there’s nothing wrong with any of that.

But alongside this sense is another: the self-described writers I’m running into seem to want to break out, climb the hill, be the next James, Collins, Meyer, or Rowling. They want success.

Here’s the problem: Success requires improvement (no matter who you are), and in writing for comfort, we oppose our own improvement. We may become more fluent, but fluency is more about deepening ruts and ingraining habits than it is about stretching ourselves. Fluency insists that we keep doing things the old way. Fluency lulls us to death.

Discipline–the kind that hurts–that’s the only way to improvement. So how are you disciplining yourself in writing? What are you doing with your work that hurts?

This is a challenge to me more than anyone.

 

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