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About Writing Right: The Blog


Someone wanted to know why writing a book is so difficult, and he received an answer or two from other online respondents. One was way off the mark. Here's why.

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While I'm sure Mr. Zapata's response was well-intended, it's dead wrong. Sure, writing a book can be all those things he claims, including despair, frustration, and loneliness. But, he makes no allowance for variances between writers, a common shortcoming with newbies with little experience over short periods of time.

Let me explain where he goes wrong.


First, writing "a book" isn't difficult at all. You sit down, string some words together, and when you have assembled sixty thousand of them or more, you get up and announce to the world that you've written a book. If that's your goal, it's easy-peasy.


However, writing a good book takes considerably more effort and generally more time. That's because all the elements for writing a good novel or even a work of nonfiction work must be present to make it "soar." It has to make sense; it has to move the reader along; it has to provide value for the reader; it has to have a distinct beginning, middle, and end, and it has to provide a satisfactory conclusion. While doing all that, the author must also know the nuts and bolts of grammar, punctuation, syntax, storytelling, conflict and resolution, logic, organization, and all the other elements involved in the clarity and efficiency of writing.


Now, getting back to Mr. Z's response implying that all those grueling experiences befall every writer, I'm a little surprised at what a mindreader he is. And, what a bad one. He can't possibly know what I face after conventionally publishing nearly a hundred books and several thousand articles and short pieces. After writing, editing, and book doctoring for nearly half a century, writing is nowhere near a grueling task for me but an endless pleasure. It's also not a solitary endeavor in which I—like, I suppose, Edgar Allen Poe—brick myself off from the rest of the world and write, sequestered, for solitary days, months, and years on end.


Nope. I live a normal life with a normal family in a normal neighborhood with normal people. And I do normal things, including eating out, playing with our cat, gardening, cooking, and swimming in our pool.

So, returning to the crux of your question, writing a book isn't hard; writing a good book is. And, by the way, writing a great book is harder, still. But, if you love writing, it's not a chore at all. Not ever. And, I feel sorry for those "writers" who group every one of us into a bubbling cauldron and call us brothers. I'm a writer because I love to write, not because I enjoy banging my head against the wall. I'm a writer because I'm the very best at my craft because I have studied and even taught it for more than half a century. And, I'm a writer because, throughout it all—painting, sculpting, playing music, photographing, designing—writing is the single most essential part of my artistic life.


Anyone who finds writing a book to be rigor, hard work, sequestration and the emotions that arise from it, such as "despair, frustration and loneliness," should stick to writing postcards. As for everyone else, I suggest you avoid heeding advice from "writers" who pigeon-hole all others based upon one minuscule experience in the overall scope of the universe.




Hope this helps … both you and Mr. Z. If not, well, you can always ...


Smoke if you've got 'em.

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D. J. Herda is author of the new e-Book series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere. You can also check out his column, "The Author-Ethicist," at Substack. It's free, it's entertaining, it's informative, and it runs weekly. Well, almost weekly. Occasionally weekly. Sometimes weekly. (Hey, he does his best!) 

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