The Hard Work of Writing


Photograph by Cindy Pope Lowman


Genesis 2:15: “The Lord took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work and take care of it.”


It never ceases to amaze me at the people who say, “Oh, what fun it must be to write! To have the perfect words just flow over the pages. And, after a couple of hours, your work is done so you can go play and spend all that money that you make.”

I wish!

Writing is work – like hard, manual labor – the kind of labor that every day you dread starting. The writing portion is bad enough, but with the research, critiques, rewrites and reorganization, it is intensive shedding of blood, sweat and tears that seems to go on and on.

At a book signing several years ago for non-fiction writer Ricky Bragg, someone asked him about his writing process. He admitted that writing was work – hard work. He likened it to “diggin’ taters.” I chuckled out loud and said, “Or hoeing cotton.”  He looked my way and said, “Yeah, that too.”

You don’t jump up in the mornings and think, “Oh, goody! Today I get to dig taters and hoe cotton!” As writers, we don’t jump up each morning and think, “Oh, goody, today I get to work on that Great American Novel.” Or finish that article that is fast approaching deadline, or even start the blog that’s due.

And I never could figure out why.

Upon doing some research, I learned that when we write, longhand or on the computer, we are using both sides of our brains at the same time. The left hemisphere controls the right side of the body, and is responsible for logic, science and math. This analytical section of the brain is used to get the mechanics of words on the page, forming letters, proper words and coherent sentences. The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body and is responsible for our creativity. This emotional side produces the scenes, dialogue, sights, sounds, aromas, character traits, plots and plot twists.

Even during the editing process, the writer must keep track of the characters and who has said what and when, as well as make sure the research is correct and all sentences are grammatically correct.

Why on earth would someone go to so much trouble for so little gain? When just setting up a scene and having a character enter that scene takes a lot of brain power?

We do it because of the finished product. It gives us such pleasure and a sense of accomplishment that we have created something to be proud of.

There is nothing like working on a piece and have someone genuinely touched by our words. It brings joy seeing our thoughts and images on paper for all to read, enjoy, and maybe learn from. To see someone smile or cry at our words is very special for writers. And no one can take that away. Ever.

For writers, that is akin to being in the Garden of Eden.

Even if it’s a bad writing day when nothing goes right, we are there to work the writing and take care of our precious gift from God. It is up to us to nurture that gift, mold it into something worthwhile, and share it with the world.

And if we don’t?

Well, we all know what happened in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve did not do God’s bidding.

5 thoughts on “The Hard Work of Writing

  1. Thank you for your post Sydney. I can somewhat relate. In many ways writing is like photographing a couple’s wedding. Many people think after the service your work is done. This is just the beginning. Now you have all of your data (images) and this is where the creativity starts. I completely understand about the sense of pleasure you receive when others are happy with your work. It means so much to see smiles, laughter and those happy tears. I am so glad you are doing something you enjoy. Please contact me for the book signing. Thanks, Mike

Leave a Reply