Writing is Hell


It’s a beautiful Saturday morning. Not a cloud in the sky. My cats are baking in a sunbeam beside my computer desk. And I just saw a family of ducks cross my backyard. No joke. I’m sitting at my computer desk on this lovely day with my laptop open, my novel pulled up, and a raspberry tea within arms reach. There’s even a vase of fresh flowers on the corner of the desk. Surrounded by all of this loveliness and with hours to work on my novel, all I can think of is how much I’d like to go back to bed.


Let’s face it, writing is hell.

So, to fix my mindset, I got online and started looking up inspirational quotes. After sifting through pages and pages and pages of quotes about goals, motivation, and happiness, I came upon some about writing. One in particular, I thought embodies the writing experience better than an other. William Styron put it best when he said, “Let’s face it, writing is hell.” To me, there is no statement that more accurately captures the torturous quality of writing. I’m sure there are more thought-provoking statements out there, ones that would inspire me to write 1,000 words, but this one struck a chord with me for its simplicity and blunt honesty.

Sometimes writing can be mentally, emotionally, and even physically painful to the point where it’s no longer enjoyable. There are times when sitting at my laptop trying to expel just one descent sentence or word is pure agony. Some mornings I lay in bed, putting off getting up, because I dread the thought of tackling my draft.

If writing is hell, why do I write? Why do any of us write? My sister/writing companion/personal editor/critic/etc. recently came across some research that suggests that the writer’s need to write is neurological. This means, some individuals absolutely have to write in order to satisfy some portion of their brain. So, basically we write in the name of science.

I like to think there is a more personal need to write, one that leads to personal or spiritual growth. I like to think that there is a pay-off for all of the frustration that goes into drafting a paragraph or editing a chapter. Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” I think of this statement when I’m tackling a particularly difficult draft. If I’m already suffering, I might as well keep going because there is going to be a light—or at least a finished product—on the other side.

With that last quote in mind, I think I’m going to take another stab at writing today. Hope your days are more productive than mine! Look forward to seeing you all again on Monday!


11 thoughts on “Writing is Hell

  1. Oh yes, know where you’re coming from!
    If you didn’t yet see the video I shared on my blog last week you should take a look – I’m guilty of all of those (The Art of Procrastination)

    • I’ll have to take a look. Thank you for sharing. I did get one chapter edited today, but with Saturdays being my primary writing/editing days (sister and kid free and all) it’s not a very productive day, so far.

      Thanks for commenting:)

  2. Some days, yes, writing can be hell. Right now I’m trying to work on a novella. I love the overall plot that I’ve worked out, but it’s not coming out the way it is in my head and it is frustrating me to no end. I can normally do 1,000 words in an hour, but with this novella I’m lucky to knock out 300 in that time. It is so frustrating.
    Writing can be hell, but when the words are flowing and you are on a roll, it can also be heaven.
    Good luck with the draft you are working on.

    • Yes, I forgot to mention that. haha. It’s strange how something that brings us so much frustration and, at times, misery can drive us. I think it is those moments when writing really is going well. Those are golden moments. When you have those, you remember why you write. Thank you for sharing. Excellent point.

  3. Michelle Mueller

    I like the blunt honesty of that quote, too. Dorothy Parker says it best, in my opinion: “I hate writing, I enjoy having written.” Interesting point about the science part. Writers writing in the name of science. Maybe that explains the feelings of “driving necessity” or “I would up and die if I couldn’t write” that writing so often (at least in my case) stirs up.

    • I saw that quote too! Almost used that one, because I totally agree with it. Sometimes, it’s like you can’t wait to stop, but then you look back and feel glad to have written. So true. Thank you for sharing.

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