There’s a thing known by those of us who have written a novel. And, it’s a controversial thing. Not something widely shouted, or thrown into the cosmos for all to hear. But, it is true: no matter how hard to believe. And, you may get mad at me for saying this, but, here’s the gist: writing, making art, creating stuff, is often a little boring.
It’s taxing. It’s hard. Art takes a long time—and with no guarantee that the result will be any good.
This, this fact, is why I preach discipline so much. Why I try to instruct new writers to just get that word count done. Because, besides things like self-editing and self-doubt being easy ways to kill the creative drive, if you go into a project assuming every second will be a rollicking good time: then you are in for a terrible surprise, mate.
Writing a book takes weeks, months, years. You are putting word after word after word, and no matter how much effort you put into plotting and outlining, you will end up with odd divergences and strange tangents and where you’re going isn’t always obvious. You are walking a lonely road, and though you dream and hope for the end of the tunnel, you still must walk in the dark for a long time.
And, sure, that may sound exhilarating to some. Like barreling toward an unknown horizon. But, if you’ve taken a long road trip on the interstate like I have, you understand that no matter how exciting the destination may be, you will spend a huge amount of time passing dull fields and monotonous forests. Tons of sights which, after a while, makes you sure your mind is melting out of your ears.
Now, the detractors to this statement, the ones who take offense to such a claim, probably don’t understand that if you only write when excited about the writing, when you only write when the creative fire burns in your fingertips, you will never finish a book. Unless you bang out the entire creation during one bout of artistic explosion: you are dealing with long term work.
Writing (and all art) is work. That is another shattering statement, which I am sure some will not be happy about, but it is the truth. If making art is overwhelmingly easy all the time you are on a sure-to-end hot streak.
This may sound harsh, but that’s only so I can clarify that what an artist does is work. It’s some of the most respectable work on this planet, a supremely noble pursuit….
But it is not easy.
And it is not always fun.
The criminal sin of writing is to bore the reader, but just because you must do all you can to not bore your audience, you, as the artist being bored, is par for the course. So, expect boredom, and remember you are not experiencing a “block” or something of that ilk when it occurs. You are in the process of dragging something into reality from your fucking mind, and sometimes it gets a little stuck in the pipeline.
So, when the sense of tedium strikes, grit your teeth, and drag the sucker out, and don’t believe for a second it means there’s something wrong with you. You’ll find art at the end of that tunnel, you’ll find a voice, and—in the thematic blood and plot marrow of the work—you’ll find what you care about most in the whole world.
But it won’t always be exciting getting there.