When I began The Wayward Journey in the fall of 2011, I noted that there are many ups and downs on the road to establishing your own business. One of the bumps that I often stumble on is staying motivated, and nowhere is that more evident than in the struggle I have with writing.
I’ve written professionally since college, but that doesn’t mean words come to me any easier now than they did back in the dark ages of typewriters and correction tape. I still wrestle with grammar and style issues. That’s on a good day. On a bad day, the well dries up completely, and I am left with an empty Word document on my screen.
Over the years, I have learned the importance of writing a strong lead paragraph, making concise, reasoned arguments, telling a good story and closing with sincerity and conviction. I know what makes good writing, and I love it when I see it. I just don’t always see it on my desktop.
There are days when my Muse has left the building. And then it’s slogging time.
Last fall, I mentioned a book by Irving Belateche called “Under an Orange Sun, Some Days Are Blue.” Belateche is a screenwriter in Los Angeles; and in his book, he describes the good and bad days of writing. He takes to task those who say they “love” writing, noting that it can be a tough and tortuous process.
I especially like a quote he borrows from Thomas Mann about the difficulty of writing. I jotted that down in a notebook, along with several paragraphs from his book, to remind me from time to time that I’m not alone in this “slog,” as he calls it.
A writer has days when he or she enjoys writing and gets lost in the process. But a writer has just as many days when writing is a slog. A long, painful, and tortuous slog.
Thomas Mann once said, “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” I couldn’t agree with him more. He was talking about those slog days. A writer is someone who makes it through those slog days.
I’m always suspicious of writers who “love” to write. I suspect that they don’t write that much. A writer is someone who loves writing some of the time and powers through it the rest of the time. A writer is someone who’s driven to write and not someone who “loves” to write.
– Irving Belateche, “Under an Orange Sun, Some Days Are Blue”
Powering through the slog days is how we accomplish our goals. Anyone who tells you that being at the top of your game is “easy” or “natural” hasn’t been there or is offering empty, feel-good promises. Achieving something, inventing something, creating something—that takes hard work and dedication. And, yes, you have to be driven.
When we watch college and professional athletes perform at their peak, we are seeing the result of years of struggle and practice, pain and sacrifice. It looks so easy from the stands or from our La-Z-Boy. But how many slog days did it take to get to the Final Four or to pitch on opening day?
These last few days, all eyes have been on Kevin Ware, the Louisville guard whose lower leg snapped in half on national television during the NCAA basketball tournament game against Duke. I wish him a full and speedy recovery. Most of all, I wish for him courage, tenacity, good spirits and a positive attitude as he faces those painful slog days ahead.