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Let the Sea be Cold (aka, Writing is Hard)

I think most of us get caught by the sea in one way or another.

Because you dip one toe in and it immediately goes numb. Because there are so many other things to do in the world other than writing, and the vast majority of them are so much easier, dammit. Because you haven't written since last week, and sometimes things freeze over and it's hard to find your way back into them. Because you are at the most confusing part of the beginning, or the muddliest middlemost part of the middle, or the most intimidating part of the end. Because your last project failed dismally. Because your last project was more successful than you ever dreamed it would be and now you have something to live up to. Because there are things inside you that you need to say, and they are scary, risky things that you have never tried to say before, and they loom on the horizon like a set of waves waiting to pull you under. Because sometimes a blank page can be an icy, terrifying thing. Because sometimes you look at a page full of yesterday's words and realize that none of them are actually doing what you need them to do, and they will need to be shaped into order somehow, except that it's hard to think of order when you're in the middle of the goddamn sea.

Because the sea is so wide, and so deep, and so, so cold.

And this is where I was going to give you a list of ways to make the sea less cold, with lots of sensible suggestions like "Switch off the internet!" and "Play awesome music!" and "Stop being such a frickin perfectionist! Just write words!" and “Make a regular time and place for writing in your life!” and "Focus on something small so that your head doesn’t explode!". You know, the usual stuff.

Except that no matter what you do, nothing will ever truly make the sea less cold. While there are thousands of ways to make writing easier, there is no trick in the world that will ever make writing easy. Because writing is not meant to be easy.

So, do whatever might make the cold easier to ignore today. Make coffee, avoid coffee like the plague, remove the meowing cat from the room, let the meowing cat sit next to your computer, turn your best writing music on, write in complete silence, write first thing in the morning, write in the middle of the night, turn the internet off, leave the internet on and see if any of your friends are writing too, consult your plot outline and see if it gives you a direction to go in, wing it and see if the story takes itself anywhere interesting. And maybe something will work. Maybe nothing will work. But let the sea be cold. Because there are days when writing is easy from the moment you sit down, days when the cold doesn't matter in the slightest, days when you feel like you could swim forever, but ultimately, writers are not made by those days. We're made by the days when it's icy, the days when we'd rather do anything in the world than swim in the sea.

Let the sea be cold, and swim anyway.

Leila Austin

Leila lives in Middle Earth, also known as New Zealand, and writes YA fantasy.

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  1. Love this! Now I'm off to make some hot tea to battle the cold sea. :)

  2. Great post! After whipping through 15,000 words during my Christmas break, I have come to a full stop. I've reached the part of the WIP where I know what must happen, but have never been able to visualize the events or figure out how to make them happen. Writing came to a grinding halt this week. But last night I kind of accepted that it was hard (just as you suggested) and put words on the page anyway. I accept that they kind of stink, but you can't revise what you haven't written. And so I pressed forward into the cold sea! Thanks for the image!


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Item Reviewed: Let the Sea be Cold (aka, Writing is Hard) Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Leila Austin