Does it get any easier?
Yes and no.
Yes, sometimes I write stories where the words flow from my fingertips.
No, sometimes I have a great idea, and I sit down to write a story and realize there’s a key part I haven’t yet figured out, and whatever I’m supposed to figure out remains hidden for a while.
Yes, either way things go, I eventually figure out the story.
Sure, sometimes a story feels like it’s writing itself, and sometimes it feels like a chore. This can – obviously – be easier or more challenging for the writer. The important part is: when reading the final version, the reader has no clue which parts were easy/hard. (Unless you make a point of mentioning it on your blog, which of course I’m not doing. Really.)
What’s interesting – and a relief! – is not that the reader is unaware of any turmoil I might have (although that’s a nice bonus), but that every time I have to fight to write a story, I realize there was a reason behind my frustration.
With my latest story, The City Trees, I thought – two months ago! – easy, peasy. This can’t possibly take more than a few hours max to write.
Wow, was Past Jamie wrong.
This story took days, not mere hours. I wrote the opening weeks ago, and figured out the ending shortly after that. But the middle was fuzzy. I thought I’d do one thing, then realized that wouldn’t work in today’s world – and this story is set in the present day. Then I tried to make that same scenario fit the times, which didn’t work at all.
Finally I came up with a plot twist that was new to even me, and I thought through the details and realized it would work. We’ll see if I’m right, but it feels good, and it answered a hitherto unanswered question for the series I’m writing. (Only one question, mind you – I still have a long list!)
In doing this, I learned a valuable – and (now) very obvious lesson. Don’t put off doing something thinking you’ll magically figure it out and it will be easier later on.
With this story, I started writing one scene the way I originally envisioned it, then when I realized I hadn’t thought through everything I had to delete a whole chunk of text. Since this is a short story it wasn’t really that many words, but still! They were good words! Just not right for this particular story.
All that said, the lesson was valuable. I’ve had good luck in the past where I put something off thinking my subconscious would work out the details, but clearly that is not always going to happen. Sometimes you just have to plow through.