90% Perspiration

idea (Photo credit: Tony Dowler)

Everyone, it seems, has an idea for a book. A book they will write “some day, when I get around to it”. Of the few people who actually start to write that book, many (maybe most) soon give up. Welcome to the world of the writer! “10% inspiration, 90% perspiration”.

Every day has its challenges, some seem insurmountable. The story goes off track, the words won’t come, you hit a dead end. It takes work to recover, make up for lost time, and find solutions. Creativity is a necessary ingredient, but so is relentless effort.

Then there are the edits. Few first drafts clearly convey the writer’s intentions. Sometimes you remove vast chunks, realize there are holes to fill, or find places where logic just broke down. Creativity is still an important element, but no one who has revised a WIP would discount the importance of “elbow grease” or a red pen.

Even after the WIP is finished, if you decide to pursue the publishing track, there are rejection letters. Publishing typically means research, test readers, submission guidelines, and multiple tries. Success means not giving up.

Tenacity is an often overlooked quality in writers. You may have a very supportive environment but there is probably no escaping the voices (inside and outside) that say you are not good enough, that what you write is trashy/escapist/frivolous, and that you should look for a “real” job/hobby. To keep writing under such pressure is another dimension of hard work.

So as important as it is to have an idea or three, any writer knows that alone is not enough. A poem, a book, a lyric, a screenplay, any of these takes work. And to produce a piece that clearly communicates the writer’s idea usually takes a lot of work. But most writers will say that the process and the result are worth the effort.

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