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The short answer: It doesn’t.
The longer answer: One of my composition students recently wrote on an anonymous card (a method I use to encourage honest feedback), “Why does writing have to be so difficult?” He or she was referring to the practice of crafting thesis statements for essays, but the question could easily apply to any aspect of writing, including fiction.
My initial answer, trite as it may sound, was that nothing worth doing is easy. I don’t have to be a sports fan to admire the dedication and hard work athletes put into perfecting their skills. Musicians work long and hard hours to master their instruments. Mechanics and doctors study for years so they can diagnose a problem and fix it.
Writing, like all of the above, is a skill as well as a talent. To write well requires hard work, dedication and that old axiom: practice, practice, practice.
And the more you practice, the easier some aspects become. After writing several essays, my student will probably develop a sense of what makes an effective thesis statement and what doesn't – so, in future classes, he or she won’t become bogged down by anxiety when given a writing assignment. Likewise, the writer who writes more than one novel or short story develops a sense of when scenes don't move the story along, when there's too much description (or too little), when characters lack distinct personalities . . . and how to fix these things.
There are always new challenges to face. For fiction writers, one such challenge comes after you’ve spent long hours and years perfecting your writing skills. How do you go about selling your work to an agent, editor, or reader?
Which brings me back to my initial answer to the student: Nothing worth doing is easy.
I'd love to read your comments. What aspects of writing have become easier for you? Which ones do you still need to master?
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