Why is writing so hard?

This morning I stumbled across an article which accurately described my current relationship to writing.

Writing is like kissing someone. If you kiss someone you really want to kiss, it can be magical and effortless. Time disappears. But try to force yourself to kiss someone you really don’t want to kiss. You feel hollow and cheap. It’s not a good thing. No one should do it. It’s disrespectful to kissing.

I can’t explain why sometimes I can write so effortlessly that the words just tumble out from my fingertips and onto the screen. And then there’s the other times—where the blank screen stares back at me mockingly as I sit there dumfounded for hours. Every single word feels like agony and torture.

For a copywriting project I was freelancing for a few weeks back, there was this specific blog post which took me three hours to write about 400 words. I was genuinely ashamed.

Something I want to ask other writers is whether writing is meant to feel easy? Is it meant to be free-flowing because it’s your soul-calling and what you came here to do? Or is this the reality of being a writer—some days it’s smooth sailing and satisfying, but most of them it’s hard and feels like shit?

I have been hit with some reality checks lately of what it means to write and be a freelancer. It is something I always wanted to do. Working for myself, having the autonomy, the freedom, the space to do what I wanted when I wanted. Having weekends off was all I could dream of when I worked in retail.

Yet, it’s ironic because now I keep working on weekends anyway. In fact, it’s pretty darn difficult for work to ever really not be on my mind. The boundaries between work-home-play have blurred. Open a work email at 8pm? Sure, why not. But not having clear-cut times for when I’m working or resting has made me feel constantly anxious. Finding a routine and schedule if you’re going to work for yourself is paramount—I was a blind sighted to think I could do without it.

I am also realising that environment is EVERYTHING. Further adding to the dissolving boundaries between work and play, is the fact that I am currently working from my bedroom. Do I sleep here? Do I work here?! My subconscious is heavily confused. Being in an environment where other people are working has been incredibly helpful—the library is amazing, there’s also this cool cafe near my new place which has been fab.

Freelancing has also allowed me to understand—at least on a small scale—what it would be like to run a business. I guess, technically I am my own business. But anyway, being an entrepreneur and starting your own company takes a hell of a lot of work. It is not for the feint-hearted. This is something that really needs to be talked about because everyone wants to be a digital nomad or entrepreneur these days. But I think we’re all obsessed with the idea of it and don’t really understand the reality of what it would entail. I remember watching a podcast with Gary Vee and Lewis Howes, and Gary said that he worked something like 18 hours a day. To me, and probably many other average people, that sounds fucking awful.

Don’t get me wrong, working for yourself comes with great perks. But it’s also a compromise. Freelancing is inherently unstable and you aren’t getting the same security/benefits you would at a regular 9-5. On the other hand, you get to decide your own schedule, your own holidays, how much or how little you want to work. (I’m unfortunately realising that when you are paid based on deliverables, the only way to earn more is to work more.)

What I miss about working at a regular job—retail in my case—is that when I went to work, I was at work. When I came home, I was at home. This clear distinction meant that it’s was easier to switch off when resting—I think about work at work, then can brain dump everything as soon as I clocked out.

I went on a bit of tangent there but what I’m trying to get at is that doing your ‘dream job’ does not mean it’s going to be easy, fun, or even enjoyable all the time. The first thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a magazine editor or a writer of some kind. When actually producing a magazine for my final year project at university, it was incredibly eye-opening to see what it takes to do it. From the idea and conception, way back in early 2019, to the mood boarding, commissioning writers, designing, chasing up delays, creating a (theoretical) business structure—there is A LOT that goes into that job.

Writing on it’s own—at least the type that’s thoroughly researched—takes a lot of time and effort. There’s a lot of brain power involved, which I wasn’t used to when working in my previous retail jobs. I used to complain all the time that I felt like my brain was completely numb. How I would kill now for some brain numbing. Now my brain feels constantly fried from being overloaded with too much information.

But even though this is one hell of a rant, I still believe I am here to write in some capacity. Will everything I write feel easy and natural? Fuck no. But I will savour the times it is, which thankfully, is when I get to pour my heart out into this corner of the internet.

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