Write the Easy Way

Yeah, I’m still on that kick. I tend to do things the hard way, especially with writing. I think that I should be able to formulate this giant novel, complete with world building, deep characters, pull it all out of my ass, and do it with ease and joy. Then I get discouraged when it doesn’t work out for me like I wanted it to. And sooner than I could have hoped for. Of course, I get cranky and sometimes even think that I must not be any good if I can’t do all this with ease.

I’m reminded of Sharon Salzberg’s Lovingkindness book and audio book (also available from one of my favorite places, Audible.com). In the Buddhist meditations she was doing, there are several types of people you send love to: yourself, a benefactor, a friend, a neutral person, and an enemy, in that order. She was saying that she didn’t feel like she was doing anything worthwhile, that it really didn’t count, until she was trying to send love to her enemy, or someone who had wronged her. When she expressed this to her teacher, he asked why she wanted to do things the hard way, and that the teachings say to do things — everything, in fact — in the easiest way possible.

Now, that’s not to say that you take the lazy way out and never put any amount of work into things. But, as it applies to writing, it means to start with the easy things. Write a few short stories, keep a detailed diary, write a manual for something you know, write a review on Amazon. Whatever. Something easy. From there, step up and challenge yourself with something harder — a longer story, some easy world building, dissect a novel you love so that you can see what makes the world or the language or the characters tick and sing and talk back to you. Then novella, a novel, more in depth character analysis, etc. Whatever works for you, but constantly hone your skills.

Don’t let your ego mess you up by saying, “No, this is baby shit. I’ve got this.” You might indeed have it, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s no shame in stepping back and getting your bearings. You wouldn’t go to the gym and start working out by deadlifting 300 pounds. You would get a hernia, hemorrhoids, broken vessels in your eyes, orangutan arms, and a Vicodin addiction when you finally got out of the hospital…assuming you could move the weight at all.

Writing is work. It’s working out your mind and your skills. In the past I have been trying to lift that 300 pound weight instead of starting with something more reasonable. Now I’m moving forward. I’ve looked to the past of my story and novel to get to the present. Easy enough. Now I’m writing new characters and concepts, and that’s harder But I’ve done the work on this, and I’m filling in the gaps.

Best of all, I’m learning so that I can eventually reach that next step. I’m not trying to leap to the top of the steps and then sitting on the bottom riser, weeping like Nancy Kerrigan and thinking that I’ll never make it to the top of the steps. Start easy, work your muscles steadily, and you’ll get there. So will I.

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~ by Darren Endymion on November 23, 2015.

2 Responses to “Write the Easy Way”

  1. This is exactly what I needed! Thank you for this! I have the same struggle as yours but I am enlightened!

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