1 year ago for day 26, 2019 with 480 words.

The tyranny of writing

Writing is a brutal art. Almost everyone I meet wishes they could write better, and talks about learning, but has either attempted then failed to begin, or tried for a while and given up.

We all struggle to externalize our words, emotions and ideas, but writing them down seems to make things more difficult: you have to deal with them there, on the page, in front of you. And, worse still, someone else might read those words.

It's hard enough to get the words out: the torturous process begins with figuring out how you really feel, but then projecting them with the perfect word to represent a feeling correctly is like torture. I agonize over words, and the order of them, for hours. Days. Staring at them, like an uncomfortable mistake in a beautiful painting: how can I make this less awkward without destroying the whole piece?

Then, it's hacked to pieces. Maybe it's easier to start again.

I know that most of the arts are brutal on themselves when it comes to their craft, but writing, to me, just seems afflicted by so much self-doubt and an inabili revety to move that so much of it doesn't see the light of day. I wish more unedited, unfiltered thoughts got out there into the masses, to understand that even the most coherent pieces require massaging for days, weeks and months to become something decent. And even then, we probably aren't all that happy with it anyway.

On Writing Well, one of the best books I've ever read about writing, really encourages the art of iteration, putting words to the page, and struggling through this as publicly as possible. Our tools, Medium, WordPress, whatever, make it seem like everything went from in-progress to done in an instant, without revealing the pain along the way. What if you could see all the unfinished revisions hidden behind the final draft? The ideas that died in the process, and the ones that made it.

Writing, in society, just doesn't seem to get enough credit for how hard it is to get right. It's broken my heart this week, and made me question why I work in this space, to see the media brutalized yet again by mass layoffs, driven by investor greed and a lack of pushing for new, sustainable alternatives for journalists. What if nobody actually values words? It's hard to see that they do, even though I know they dislike bad words.

Writing is good, and terrible, because it forces you to confront all of these demons to even get something out there. Sometimes it flows, other times it doesn't. It's brutal, but I think it helps in every aspect of life, even if it is underrated by the many. I just wish more people could understand the love that goes into a writer's words.


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By Owen

I made this! I'm a cloud-scale infrastructure engineer 🚀 turned writer. I like to make products that help humans!

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