Sunday, December 27, 2015

It's too hard. Just Keep Writing.

My son slammed the car door after swim practice. "It's too hard."
With tears in his eyes, he went on to tell me how many meters he had swam the past 90 minutes. It was a few thousand.
Yeah, that DOES sound hard.
But he did it. And he didn't lose his dinner, or sink to the bottom of the pool, or quit in the middle of practice. After three years of gaining skill and talent, I couldn't be a prouder parent.
"You did it! That's amazing!" I tried to encourage him, knowing that he's growing, and knowing that his practice needs to be tough to get better.
"But it's too hard." All he could do was pout and choke back tears and focus on the difficulty.
Poor guy was exhausted. Not to mention he was a little spoiled with his Christmas video game extravaganza the day before.
Yes, he was probably sore. Probably worn out both physically and emotionally. Having a coach bark, "Another 500!" when he could hardly breathe from the last 500 took a toll on his emotions, I would think.
But all I could do as his mother is encourage him to keep going. "You know, after you swim like that for a week or so, it can only get better. You'll get used to it."

Not the words he wanted to hear. Believe me. He whined and cried all the way home. I even asked if he wanted to quit just to test him...and to be sure I wasn't blowing off his angst (too much). He didn't want to quit.
He really does love it.
He just doesn't like the work it takes. The pain to gain, the constant laps to shave seconds.

Can you relate as a writer?

Have you ever cried, "It's too hard." After your tangled mess of a plot, your muddied critique, your contest loss...again?? Have your emotions been spent, your mental capacity drained, your heart muscle sore from caring too much?
I know that we as writers don't have the physical exhaustion like a swimmer--or maybe, we do--when we pull an all-nighter, when we get tennis elbow from our poor posture over the computer, when our joints ache at the 100,000 word pour out on the keyboard...hmmmm...

But, we really do love it. We need to remember that the practice, the stories, the writing, the re-writing, the editing, the scratching and starting over, is all worth it. Because we are getting better. We are learning more--about ourselves, about our craft, about our endurance.

If we are still writing after just one rejection, we are learning.

We are putting those thousands of meters...I mean pages...behind us, to crank out the next best thing. And it's going to get better...maybe easier in a way (I know that I can whip up a one page synopsis in a blink compared to a few years ago).

My son shaves seconds off his time on a regular basis at each meet he races in. He doesn't realize that those thousands of meters swam at practice help knock off the seconds that get him closer to a qualifying time for State.

I have written at least 300, 000 words in four years. And while I haven't qualified as a published author...yet...I know that I am closer. I see my endurance is paying off in the level to which my writing has grown. Not in a conceited way, just in a difference that must be had to inch (or mili-inch) to my goal of publication.

As a writer, if all this practice does not grow my skill...then what's the point?

And my son knows deep down that he's getting better. He wants to keep going. Because he's seen it pay off in the seconds. One day, he'll see it pay off in bigger ways. One day he'll swim what he pleases at State.

But only if he keeps going. Even when it's hard. Even when it's TOO hard. If he fights through it, he'll be a winner.

Will you keep writing? Even when it seems too hard...on your mind, on your time, on your heart?

If you are a writer, you'll keep going. It will get better. Just don't give up.

Just keep!
Angie Dicken is a full-time mom and lives in the Midwest with her Texas Aggie sweetheart. An ACFW member since 2010, she has written six historical novels and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Angie also spends her time designing one-sheets and drinking good coffee with great friends. Check her personal blog at and connect at:
Twitter: @angiedicken


Angela said...

Thanks for the words of encouragement. This is very timely for me. I have a week off from work. I told myself there is no reason why I can't revise one of my manuscripts and complete a first draft of another. However, when I sat at my computer surrounded by all of my favorite writing things...not words came.
Today, I changed my location (sipping coffee at my favorite writing cafe), I WILL get something done!

Thanks for the post.

Julia M. Reffner said...

ANGELA, changing location can be a big help for me sometimes! Plus, its holiday beverage season, which can be a great reward!

ANG, this is a great post and one I needed to hear. It reminds me of Brene Brown. I don't know if you've read her, but you might like her. She speaks on vulnerability and growth. She shares about her daughter's bout with the swim team and her coach asking her to compete in a stroke she couldn't even do. She was about to refuse, her mom convinced her that for her it wasn't placing but making it the whole lap would have been a victory. And she then viewed it that way. In the midst of our rejections could we find victories in completing the race in front of us?

kaybee said...

Angie, a good post for the last week of 2015. I have been ready to quit so many times, but got affirmation in 2015 with two contest wins and a semifinal. I'm in too deep to back out now. And I don't want to. And God hasn't told me to quit. So that's that.

kaybee said...

I live near Boston and I'm always impressed at the people who run the Boston Marathon with no hope of winning -- the elderly, the people in wheelchairs. They do it to be a part of something bigger. Which makes them winners ANYWAY, even if they don't get the wreath on their heads.

Anonymous said...

Wow did I need to read this today. This year's been a year of strictly rejections with little blips of hope/validation/triumph but very few and far between the rejections. Critique partners I've tried to gain haven't panned out (yet), and to top it all off my novel's been sitting with a small Christian publishing house since September first and I'm dreading the rejection coming. So much so I've taken a break from writing it's sequel since November/NaNoWriMo ended.*sigh*
All that to say--thank you for this. I always feel mentored/encouraged/convicted reading the posts daily here at The Alley and come away more bolstered in doing what I've been called to do even when it is SO dang hard to keep on going.

Mary Vee Writer said...

An incredibly encouraging post. Wow, Ang, this was so well done and one I think everyone can relate to. Thanks!!

Pepper Basham said...

GREAT GREAT reminder, Ang! Many times it feels 'too hard' in the pre-published phase, but it also feels that way in the post-published phase. It's a good reminder of God's cultivations of the gift on both sides of publication!
It IS too hard for us on our own, but with Him - we can do it! And find joy in the journey

Angie Dicken said...

I hope you get much done this week...but also enjoy the time off! Happy New Year!!

Angie Dicken said...

I haven't read her, but swimming is such a great analogy for so many things in life! Thanks for sharing, Julia!

Angie Dicken said...

Congrats on the successes! I have been pretty dry in that regard for a couple years now. I just entered my first contest in a while because I was so disappointed in the results of those past. May 2016 be a stellar year for all of us!!

Angie Dicken said...

What a great example!!

Angie Dicken said...

I am so glad you feel encouraged by this post, and I hope that you see some amazing things come 2016!!! God bless, Meghan!!

Angie Dicken said...

Thanks, Mare!

Angie Dicken said...

So true, Pep! But honestly, I am about ready to endure the hardships on the other side of publication!! Lol!