Does Writing Get Easier?

When I talk to beginning writers, they often say something that makes it clear that they think writing gets easier. Sometimes they flat-out ask me if it gets easier. I don’t know what to say.

On one level, it gets easier. I have been publishing articles, reviews, stories, and poems fairly regularly since 2000. I have published three books since 2009, one of which recently won a Manitoba Book Award, and I have a fourth book under contract for 2014. It has gotten easier in the sense that I know I can publish. I’ve published, and I could do it again. Barring stroke or injury, I will always be able to write publishable work.

It also gets easier in the sense that people start asking you things. They ask you to submit to their journal. They ask you to teach a course. They ask you to give a reading. You get invited to do a lot of things for which you earlier spent time begging. I don’t really have that big of a reputation, and I imagine that things will get even easier in this regard as my reputation grows (assuming it grows!) and things will get a good deal easier if I have any large success.

On the other hand, it doesn’t get easier. I still get rejections – even after I’ve been invited to submit. The other day I was watching an interview with Stephen King. He was talking about how he sent the short story “N.” to The New Yorker and they considered it but ultimately turned it down for reasons of length. Think about that for a moment. Stephen King is still getting rejections.

Recently, I moved my three published books onto my computer desk. I put them right beneath the screen, spine-out. My name facing me. I did this because I observed that when I was writing, I felt as if I had never written anything before. Sometimes you just forget that you’ve done it before. Now when I feel that way, I just look down. Oh, look! Books with my name on them! I’ve already published some books! It doesn’t get easier.

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