Writing a Book is Hard as Hell

 

Over the past year, I’ve bought some writing how-to books claiming that writing a book can be “fun” and “easy”.

I want to believe that.

As David Duchovny’s character Special Agent Fox Mulder stated so fervently,

“I want to believe.”

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But I can’t believe writing is fun and easy when it comes to my book.

Writing a memoir which includes disturbing epochs of one’s life is dredging up some serious muckety muck.  It’s fulfilling to watch my page count increase, and to see chapters that I didn’t expect take shape, but it’s also exhausting.  

Last week I had physical maladies from writing , such as a sore upper back. (I was lucky enough to get it massaged by my seven-year-old massage therapist prodigy/daughter.  I graduated from massage school and she’s way better than I am!)  I also had a painful shoulder from unconsciously squeezing the area while typing. I think that the kitchen table I use is too high.  That’s going to change or else I’ll resemble Quasimodo

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I need to do the obvious and find a lower desk for healthier body alignment, and be more conscious of my body while I write.  I plan on taking some “shake out my arms” breaks.  

As the chilly mornings begin once again, I can make a mellow herb tea.  Sipping a cup of Organic India’s intriguing-sounding “Tulsi Rose Stress-Relieving & Magical” blend while I’m fraught with haunting memories certainly wouldn’t hurt!  I’m actually sipping it right this very moment, waiting for the magic to emerge in all its glory.

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Despite my aches and pains, I never forget how lucky I am to have these few hours of quiet in which to write.  

For so many years I hauled myself to unfulfilling, stressful jobs in the midst of my ongoing depressions.  At every position I never earned much more than ten dollars an hour, yet I worked my ass off at each job.  Living in a county filled with non-profits, several of these jobs took place at various “Friends of” organizations.

Surrounded by employees and bosses who were passionate about their work, I couldn’t get excited about the projects or the missions.  I used my acting skills to seem interested in what we worked on; I really did try my best. However, I know that it was apparent that my heart wasn’t in the majority of the work.  I am supremely glad to be free of having to pretend I like my work!

So while yes, I’m bellyaching about how challenging it is to write, I’m still profoundly happy that I have the chance to even give writing a shot.  Fingers, toes, and eyes crossed, I may actually finish my rough draft by my March 18, 2015 deadline.  (a.k.a. my 45th birthday – please feel free to send me chocolate!) 😉

Thanks for reading my blog, and have a great week!  

See you next weekend,

Dyane

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29 thoughts on “Writing a Book is Hard as Hell

  1. Writing takes a wide range of skills. Having focus to even write at all and making order out of the disordered. Another level of challenge comes when writing about personal experience, even more so when writing of the perssonal challenges that have been faced. Good luck with it all Dy. You seem to be on the right track.
    The physical stuff, such as sitting ergonomically well, should help with the aches and pains.

    1. A belated thanks, Glenn, for your rockin’ comment! I’m sitting in a great chair today and the desk is an improvement as well. Both are really making a positive difference.

      To be honest, I find it very hard to focus well and for any substantial amount of time since the internet came into my life. You know how much I love my internet, but here’s the reason:
      When I’m struggling with my writing, I have several links always open and at the ready on my Mac desktop if I want to take a Facebook break or a Twitter break or a WordPress break or an email break or even (ahem) a People.com break. I can flit back and forth from my book document to any of those, and that’s a recipe for my own special kind of ADD. I know that you’re probably thinking “just close those bloody things and stay away!”

      I’m terrible. I haven’t had enough restraint to do that yet, but I’m working on it! 😉

      cheers, dear G!
      Dy

      1. No judgement here Dy. I usually have multiple windows open too. That need to stay in touch with everything. And sometimes I am inspired to write based on something I have read. cheers, Glenn

  2. True enough, I would never categorize writing as “easy” though I have to admit after 12 ebooks and books in, I have found writing not to be as painful as I would have thought.

    My godsend has been outlining, not sure I could ever sit down and just write effectively from the top of my head on a topic without a fairly detailed outline that triggers “small tidbits” of writing at a time.

    I also find that some days it just flows so naturally while other days it’s like pushing a truck up a hill…yet sticking to a minimum is important (at least for me) and then going with the flow on those days when it is really clicking.

    Have to say truthfully though the incredible feeling of satisfaction each day, and of course at the end of a project, is so much higher than any day of “work” I had done in the past.

    My favorite quote is by Hemingway – “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
    ― Ernest Hemingway

    So true, but the bleeding gets easier over time.

    1. Hi Jeff, and thank you very much for stopping by and for your insightful comments. I apologize for the belated reply. I admire you for writing so many books – wow! If you come back here, please feel welcome to share any of your titles. I’d enjoy checking them out.

      It’s interesting to read about how outlining helps you. I may try that – so far I’m just writing off the top of my head, but when I get really blocked I’ll remember that.

      Yes, some days the writing flow comes and those are happy days for me. I’ll be posting a little bit about that topic in my next post. Other days it’s gone-gone-gone and I get SOOOOO frustrated and dejected. I agree having a minimum amount to write is very helpful and I’m satisfied that I’ve been able to do that so far. My minimum is not much (2 pages), but it makes all the difference for me to set my sights at that amount, and then surprise myself with more whenever things “click” as you put it!

      Love the rather macabre Hemingway quote. It’s good to know you find the “bleeding” gets easier with time. But I must admit it also makes me think of Alice Cooper’s classic song co-written w/Dick Wagner: “Only Women Bleed”. 😉 This is a good version of it:

  3. sorry if it was completely discouraging. I did not at all mean it. You will finish it. I found it was only harder when I was the boss, much easier when someone had me sign a paper and say I was contractually obligated to deliver the manuscript 2 months later. That was a panic.
    I KNOW you will do a fantastic. You WILL make a huge contribution to the world. I am already feeling it. Hang in there. ANytime you feel discouraged, take a break! Tea time calling me. I’m frustrated myself. 🙂 xo

    1. OMG, you weren’t discouraging AT all!
      You’re just being honest! Your belief in what I’m up to is just the cat’s pajamas, it’s the bee’s knees, you get the idea!!! 😉

      I can’t tell you how awesome I feel knowing that I have someone like you in my corner. Even though I don’t write back right away, I run around (mostly like a headless chicken) happy with the knowledge that none other than bestselling author Wendy K. Williamson (“I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar”, “Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival”) is one of my fabuloso mentors.

      Speaking of writing….I think you could write a kick-ass book on writing techniques and explain how your Red Bank group formed, write about the various eccentric members, and discuss what it’s like to lead the writing group, etc.! Does that float your boat at all?

      Or how about “Writing When You Have a Mental Illness”? 😉

      or (my fave) “Writing When You’re A Bit Batshit”?

      Hey, hey – before you cackle away my suggestions, there’s truth in jest. I’d totally buy a book titled “Writing When You’re A Bit Batshit” – I’d even splurge on the paperback!

      XOXOXO

      1. Oh good, so glad I haven’t weakened the spirit!!! It’s a tough calling…but you fit the bill and will be wildly successful. You already have the hard part which is the endorsements. You are probably halfway done with rough, which is just stamina. And you’ll be fine with editing as you have an english degree. The only mistake you can make here is to do ALL editing yourself. Big mistake. That’s the only no no. That and not to promote it, but you’re so clever, you already have a plan. I know you do.

        Funny thing, I’ve already got 120 pages on that very book you suggested! Great minds think alike. hahahah

    1. I need DAILY infusions! Yesterday I lowered my standards by making chocolate frosting using Hershey’s powder, since we had no other forms of chocolate in the house. (It actually did taste pretty good while it was warm.)

      Thanks for adding my birthday to your calendar. I’m just kidding about the gifts of chocolate. Well, actually, I take that back. I want it all!!!

      “I want it now!”

  4. Yeah, writing books isn’t easy. The rough draft is painful for me, and the editing is painful for me, and the realizing-I-did-a-bunch-of-things-wrong-and-need-to-rewrite is painful for me. And starting a second book is hard, not to mention a third (after the second book goes nowhere). But I’m sure it’s worth it, at some future point. And I love it, even when I hate it. The writer’s paradox, I guess. Keep going!!

    1. I loved this, Laura – you made me laugh. It really does sound all true. It certainly is a paradox!

      This morning I watched an interview with one of my favorite singer/songwriters Neil Finn, who wrote Crowded House’s classic “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and hundreds of other songs. He said of writing a great song, “there’s mysterious divine inspiration involved, and when it works it’s effortless.” That reminded me of writing in “the flow”, liking one’s end result, and others connecting with it too.

      Thanks for being honest about not just loving writing, but hating it! 🙂
      The concept can be a groovy, new word such as hoving? Or lovating?

      In any case, yes, I’ll keep going!!! Thanks again!

      1. Yes, this paradox deserves to be made into a new term. Lovating sounds cool, though spellcheck is frowning on it. (Just you wait, Mr. Spellcheck, just wait until it’s in your dictionary!)

  5. Ahh..you thought it would be fun? Easy? Darling, it’s not fun or easy. If it were, everyone would do it and we’d have billions of books; but if it is what you want to do, feel a pull and need to do, it will feel right. You’ll be in your element, as no doubt you are. The aches and pains go wtih the territory. Worst part is reliving the memories of the most terrible days we’ve endured: the depressions, (or mania), post-partum in your case. You know what i mean.
    I found it wasn’t the rough draft, for that spilled out. It was the editing that was hard, mainly because I had to relive each attempt over and over. Talk about triggering! Ugh. But editing, even without reliving pain, is the hardest. You’ll be fine but realize it is about a year’s process start to finish.
    p.s.: I just may take up your suggestion and switch to tea this week! 🙂

    1. Yo Wendy! At long last I respond. Have you switched over to tea yet? I got more Organic India Tulsi – they have a bunch of different flavors. I like the taste, even if it’s not my beloved coffee, and my latest flavor is supposed to be energizing, which I sorely need.

      I never thought it would be fun or easy to write the book, per se, but I was naive about how intense it would be. I’m already editing some sections, and the way you describe the process really nails it on the head – it’s tough to relive certain parts of our lives over and over in that way.

      At least now I’m using a better chair and desk today and that makes a huge difference. I can also write with my Sunbox bright light, which (as you noted in your Twitter feed) is important to start doing now! Speaking of writing a book, it’s time for me to dive back in and get crackin’! I can’t imagine doing this two hundred years ago without a laptop – can you? (p.s. I have an old laptop with sticking keys – I wish we both had wealthy fans, I mean benefactors, who could send us fancy, new laptops. Don’t you?)

    1. Thanks, Fire Beast! I’m just pounding the gelato until you and I have our Moose Tracks together someday!!! Maybe my book will be done by then and I’ll *give* you a signed copy!!!!! Can’t wait to read my next B.O.F. installment !!!! 🙂

  6. Dy,

    Hang in then and drink some hot chocolate if you can. Try different writting patterns or spots and maybe some music and all. It aini’t easy but you will see the end is worth it. 🙂

    1. Dear Marie, your kind & helpful comment was the written equivalent of drinking some hot chocolate! (That’s high praise coming from this chocolate fiend!)

      Changing locations up sounds good to me – even going outside while it’s still warm enough to do so. Music is a great idea as well; I put on my Snatam Kaur Pandora station – she’s New Agey, but her mellow music is very conducive for writing as long as I don’t fall asleep! 😉 Oprah counts Snatam as one of her favorite singers; she sang at Oprah’s birthday party in Hawaii a few years ago. I write about it here:

      https://proudlybipolar.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/the-snatam-experience-a-tale-of-how-ice-cream-and-yoga-do-not-mix/

      take care and thank you so much for reading my blog and for commenting! XO

  7. Over the past year, I’ve bought some writing how-to books claiming that writing a book can be “fun” and “easy”.

    Of course it can be. Especially if you make your living writing books telling other people how they should write books.

    Writing something you want to say or that others may want to read on the other hand …

    1. You are dead-on, drooly one! Thank you!!!

      Personally I love reading messy, disturbing memoirs that don’t necessarily have a happy, shiny ending but do inspire me and teach me about different perspectives and subjects.

      On a completely unrelated, highly intellectual note, when I was 17 in 1987 – those were the days – I saw the movie “Event Horizon” in the big, fancy Westwood theater. It COMPLETELY freaked me out and I had vivid nightmares. Even though I had a massive crush on its star Sam Neill, my lust for him obviously did nothing to comfort me while I watched that film.

    1. I bet you’re plenty brave! You could do it, I know that without question!
      Sometimes I tell myself that I could drop the whole idea and I wouldn’t explode, but I have a (slightly strange) need to write my spiel and see what happens.

      Thank you so much for encouraging me. I’m very thankful I found your awesome blog! 🙂

  8. Try yoga or tai-chi for your back and shoulders!

    I can sympathize with how challenging it is to write, especially if it is from the heart. My last post, I must have rewrote it a dozen times and what I published I still think it is kinda clinical and cold compared to how I really felt emotionally.

    1. You are a fast reader! 😉 (I know it was short…) Thanks so much for your comment and for your empathy – you truly understand! I live in the total mecca for both yoga & tai chi, and I’ve tried many yoga classes and some chi gong as well over the past 20 years.

      I can’t stand them! :(((((

      But I think better ergonomics, simple awareness, & deep breathing will be a good start. My pdoc & counselor suggest meditation – they both do it themselves.

      As for your last post, I admire your tenacity in the rewrites, and your bravery for publishing what you’ve been through. Please give yourself lots of credit for that – it’s not for the weak!

      I hope your day goes well, Vic. Remember you are “Special Vic” (or how about “Extraordinary Vic”?) – anything but plain!

      take care,
      Dy

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