There seems to be a pretty popular misconception — not just limited to the internet, by the way — that writing is somehow “easy” to do.
Good ideas, and good writing, do not just spring fully-formed like Athena from the mind of Zeus. Like many things worth doing, writing is a process. I used to be a writing tutor for undergrad students, and one of the things that countless students expressed to me was their shock that writing was hard work, and that most of the time, one could not “just” write a paper in a single sitting and expect to get a perfect grade.
I cannot tell you how many times I have written half-drafts of papers, or opinion pieces, or short essays, or blog posts, and either ended up doing away with them altogether or substantially changing them multiple times. Most of the writing of which I am most proud — not all of which I have posted online — has taken quite a bit of time, research, and energy to put together. I write things down in a notebook most of the time as part of my working-through-ideas “process” (if you want to call it that), but often these scribblings do not at all resemble the final product. Hell, I have bits sitting in my blog queue that are in constant need of expansion or revision; though I tend to complete pieces once I start them, there are times when I just cannot find a good ending for certain pieces, and they end up sitting around unused for weeks or months.
On occasion, I don’t use posts or pieces at all, or post them. There are some pieces of writing that are beneficial for the writer, but I may have reservations about exposing them to an audience. Or I may have trouble saying what I actually want to say in plain and easily-understandable language — in the past, this has ended up saving me from posting some real crap and some not-even-half-baked ideas.
The fact that writing can be very difficult is not a personal failing. A large percentage of my former students seemed to think it was — that if their ideas did not emerge brilliantly and painlessly the first time, then these ideas were not worth expressing at all. Utilizing the written word is a skill, not an innate talent. There is no formula for a “great” piece of writing, or post, or essay. If someone finds hirself sitting and trying, straining to write, grumbling, “Why is this so hard?” — well, that can be the nature of the process. It can be fickle, and it is almost never “easy” in the traditional sense.
[Originally posted on my Tumblr.]