Writing is Easy. Right?

I think most writers, at one time or another, have met someone who said, “When I retire, I’m going to write a book.”

They make it sound as if all they need is more time and they, too, will be able to accomplish what I or other published writers have accomplished. And maybe some of them will, but I’m betting most might start a book and that’s as far as it will go.


Because most of them don’t realize that writing isn’t easy, at least not for most of us. It takes more than time, more than simply being able to write a decent sentence and spell words correctly. Writing is more than TELLING what happens, it’s storytelling as was practiced long ago (and is still practiced around a campfire), where the storyteller pulls the listener into what is happening. It’s using words to create a world, time, and people that come alive for the listener.

For me the most difficult part of writing is making sure everything in a story makes sense, is logical, and accurate. It means I can’t simply end a mystery by saying the villain was crazy and that’s why he or she did all of those terrible things, or end a romance with a hero who’s been a cold, domineering male, suddenly saying he loves the heroine and they’ll live happily ever after. I have to give my characters motives for what they do. I need to show the reader a character’s personality, not simply tell the reader someone is good or bad, hot tempered or calm and collected. And if I’m writing a mystery, I need to figure a way to make several people look guilty (whether they are or not) so the reader doesn’t immediately know whodunit.

I have a feeling most of these people who are “going to write a book someday” have no idea how much research goes into writing. I remember one told me she was going to write a historical because no one really knew what happened back then. I don’t believe she ever wrote that book, but if she had, I’m sure she would have been surprised by how much readers do know about each and every period of history. Same with Scifi books. A writer can create a new world, but it better be logical. Vampires. Werewolves. Those readers have expectations, and they’ll let a writer (and a publisher) know if the writer gets it wrong.

The more real a writer makes a story, the more it draws the reader in. Make a big mistake (I almost put a silencer on a revolver once), and the writer loses credibility. The reader begins to doubt other parts of the story.

So yes, I’m sure some of those people I’ve met who’ve told me they’re going to write a book after they retire will give it a try. So far I’ve only received one announcement regarding where I could buy a finished book. Maybe the others are slower writers…or maybe they discovered writing wasn’t easy.

Hmm, maybe I’ll try being a surgeon after I finish this next book. What do you think?

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12 Responses to Writing is Easy. Right?

  1. Annette Briggs says:

    Go for it, Maris. The surgeon thing, I mean. You’ve got a lot of practice in cutting and sewing things up.

    Maybe some of those hopefuls will write a book. I’m more willing to bet on the ones who have books pouring out of them and scribble dialogue and scenes on dinner napkins and toilet paper because they just can’t wait. You know who you are. 🙂

    All the best, Annette

    • Connie says:

      I agree with Annette. Interesting read. I personally take where ever I go, paper and pens. You just never know what will pop up in your mind.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Oh, Annette, you’ve never seen anything I’ve sewn or you wouldn’t make that suggestion. You are right, it’s the ones who can’t stop the flow of ideas, who scribble reminders of dialogue or plot twists, they’re the ones who will keep at it. At least, I hope they will.

  2. Great post, Maris. I have to say, you might make a great surgeon someday. Annette has some good points too!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Margo, I’ll repeat. You haven’t seen my sewing. In fact, the only poor grade I received in high school was in my sewing class. (Yep, we actually had a class in sewing back in the dark ages.)

  3. Hey, Maris, guess what? I finally finaled in a Daphne Contest with “In Lincoln’s Shadow.” Be nice to win in the inspirational category.

    Rohn Federbush

  4. Melissa Keir says:

    Many people think writing is easy because writers (and the good ones) make it seem so easy. I agree with what you say…most have no idea how to handle the daily need to write or the stamina for editing.

    All the best!

    • Maris Soule says:

      You are so right, Melissa. I think it’s the editing that stops many beginning writers. Either they don’t know what needs to be done to achieve the flow they want, or they can’t bring themselves to delete anything they have written.

  5. Diane Burton says:

    Really, Maris? Writing isn’t easy??? Geez, I wish someone had told me that before I started. LOL “Maybe I’ll write a book someday” ranks up there with “I have a great idea for a story. You could write it for me.”

    BTW, my worst grade in h.s. was typing–now I type 6-8 hours/day almost every day. Go figure.

  6. Joan Kerr says:

    I have actually written a book -well, my sister and I wrote it together- called ‘Writing is Easy’, which demonstrates just how not easy it is! However, a tip for anyone who has a like-minded writing pal – writing a book with someone else, tic and tac, each one skating off the other’s imagination, is the best fun you can have and an amazing freer-up of the creative imagination.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Joan, I’ve always thought it would be fun to co-author a book. I love “What if…” sessions. As you said, it frees up the creative imagination. Wishing you many sales with your “Writing is Easy” book.