How to Write 1000 Words or: Writing is Hard
It’s wrong, I know, but I can’t help thinking that writing is supposed to be easy.
After nearly three years of working on a PhD you would have thought I’d know better.
But I still sometimes feel that I should be able to make a cup of coffee, sit at my desk, and happily churn out thousands of perfectly formed (and cited) sentences that contribute to a tightly argued whole.
This is a fantasy and deep-down I know it. Why is it so hard to look beyond this romantic notion of writing when the reality is so different?
Perhaps part of the answer is that writers work behind closed doors, so we worry that our writing habits are ‘wrong,’ that there’s an obscure method that makes the process easier. “If only I could discover the secret!”
This would explain the mild obsession (that I share) with writing habits of famous authors among the academics I engage with online. Not a day goes by without someone mentioning or linking to a feature on writing habits:
There’s nothing wrong with this obsession, or the tips themselves, but they rarely detail the nitty-gritty of writing and revising.
The video clip below is a little more realistic in its framing of the writing process, and confirms what has always been my own writing style: make myself write, revise, repeat. Again and again and again.
For me at least, there’s no magic formula that will lead to the wistful notion of free-flowing, perfectly formed writing. Writing is about having ideas and translating them into text that makes sense to someone unfamiliar with those ideas. This is a hard skill and takes time to get right in every piece of writing.
As promised in the post title, here’s how to write 1000 words:
[I was tempted to create a screencast of me writing this post - but didn't. Sorry.]