Writing is hard (aka the excuses) - Chris Ullrich dot net

Writing is hard (aka the excuses)

as you may have seen (if anyone actually noticed) there has been larger and larger gaps between posts on this here blog. some of you may be wondering why. yes, i’m talking to you in the back row there. wake up. well, the answer is simple and no, its not burnout. although, that can happen. it’s just that i’m a busy person and more to the point: writing is hard.

ok, there, i said it. writing is hard. anyone who actually gets paid to write or anyone who just sits down and writes something will tell you. writing is work. hard work. you have to actually think about something and write it. it doesn’t just magically appear on the page. the old adage, which i have used many times to torment writers that i know, that something “writes itself” just isn’t true. you actually have to come up with it yourself and put it together. the writing keebler elf is just a myth. although, the cookies can be quite good.

sure, you can come up with a few ideas or something and jot them down (or in this case, type them in). however, getting those ideas into a somewhat coherent form is where the actual work comes in. plus, and this is a real problem for me when writing for this site and for other sites as well, i don’t always have something i want to write about. i guess i’m not angry enough. i’ll try harder.

that brings me to the other problem (yes, another one). subject matter. just writing some random words in some sort of order could be called writing, and often is. just read usa today or watch fox news. it isn’t always compelling or even interesting writing though. sometimes its really quite bad. that’s the rub. and that’s the challenge.

not to say that every word i write is golden, but i have been known to turn a phrase or two from time to time. on one of the sites i write for, LAist.com, i actually like a few of the pieces i have done for them. some relatively solid work there. but believe me, whatever you may think of my work and whatever comments you may make about it, i am a far worse critic of myself than you will ever be. its just the nature of it. most of the time i think that everything i write sucks.

but, if you feel compelled to comment or make critical observations (or even tell me something really blows) i’m ok with that. that’s part of the deal when you put something out there for people to read. you have to expect some reaction. and believe me brother, the reaction is never all good. if it were, you are probably doing something wrong. of course, a negative reaction is better than no reaction at all. as in, if a writer writes in the forest and no one reads is, is he really a writer? actually, it doesn’t really have to be in a forest. although, forests can be quite nice.

well written articles or books or essays should cause people to think and question and explore. sometimes, they even cause people to revolt or take significant steps to make sweeping changes in their lives or the lives of others. i think that’s a good thing and something to strive for. change often is inspired by someone brave enough or dumb enough to write something and put it out there and make people think. thinking is good. try it some time. it can be fun.

and if thinking causes a little conflict or makes others feel uncomfortable or exposes them to new ideas, that means the writing was effective. we shouldn’t worry so much about status quo or political correctness. this country was founded by people who rejected what was politically correct and what was status quo and we turned out pretty well. we shouldn’t forget that now that most people have 2 cars, 2.5 kids, 3.5 bedrooms, HD tv, microwave ovens, cell phones, computers, xboxes and all those other gadgets and luxuries that make life more enjoyable.

of course, if i read this now i could make an observation that this post has gotten off message and has started to meander a bit and i would be right about that. the point here is that writing is hard. and good writing is really hard. but that’s what makes it worth it. if it wasn’t difficult, it probably wouldn’t be worth doing.

i’ll try to remember that the next time i am looking at a blank page and a blinking cursor and i have nothing to say. i guess i can always ramble on about writing or how lame the president is or how much i dislike local news or people who make sweeping generalizations, every last one of them. maybe a point will come of it eventually. then again, maybe not.

i wonder what’s on tv.

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  • chris
    December 23, 2005 at 10:29 pm

    shelby, thanks for the comment. much appreciated.

    Happy Holidays to you as well.

    + chris

  • Shelby
    December 23, 2005 at 7:41 pm

    I love the way you write. Isn’t it refreshing when a few random clicks leads one to something that really shouldn’t not be missed? Keep up the great work; I’ll be reading! Happy holidays.