does difficulty = quality?

(5 Posts)
TheCatsSecretName Mon 28-Dec-15 16:27:55

So, I've been struggling with a novel for several years. I am in love with the concept, but it is very difficult to sit down and write. It is still not finished.

However, I recently "allowed" myself to begin a new novel. The idea is simple, and I am shocked because I wrote 75 pages in four days (mostly in late night writing). For my other book, it took me two years to get that far. Does this mean my current book is not very good? It is just so...easy to write. The words flow. But again, the concept is really simple.

I probably think too much. But I'd really like to hear about how "difficult" your best writing was to complete. Was your best work the hardest to write? Does degree of difficulty in writing indicate quality of finished work?

I'm freaked out at how easy the current project is to write. Perhaps I'm just not good enough to write the sophisticated literary novel I wanted my first book to be...

Squishyeyeballs Tue 29-Dec-15 16:24:18

Personally, for me, I find that the slow burning projects that I have been working on for years are harder to work on because I have spent so long thinking about them, I have become over-invested. In some cases, I have also become jaded and tired of the storylines and characters and have worked it through so much in my head that I can no longer tell if the plot is feasible or good.

For example, the first serious attempt I made at writing a novel was 3 years ago. I plotted it all out and wrote about 40 pages. I have been back and forth to it since, although I haven't touched it in a long time now because it is just too difficult to approach. The storyline seems unlikely and characters unrealistic and annoying. I love the idea of the book but it is as if I have tired it out. However, I could come up with an idea this evening and have 4-5k words knocked out within the next week, because it is a fresh idea and I will be excited to work on it.

This is just my own experience of it. But I would think that difficulty definitely does not equal quality. Some books are just a labour of love from beginning to end. And some books practically write themselves. Hope that makes sense smile

evrybuddy Tue 29-Dec-15 17:10:57

It's comforting to find others with the same issues.

I think at the heart of this issue is 'why write?'

You know, why do you write? Why does anybody write? What actually is the point of writing at all?

Some people write for money, to make a difference, for posterity, some people for therapy, some even say they love writing.

To a large degree, what you want to write (your type, genre or style of writing) will probably be dictated by why you write.

If you want money you would probably be better advised to opt for commercial/popular fiction than literary fiction - although obviously there are exceptions.

If you want posterity then I guess you won't model yourself on Cecelia Aherne or Jodi Picoult

evrybuddy Tue 29-Dec-15 17:47:22

Of course, difficulty in writing is not the same in difficulty or complexity in reading.

One would always hope that most writers are writing to the best of their ability and striving always to be better so, no matter how simple the end product, they would then all find it difficult to some extent.

Going by interviews with some writers though - this clearly isn't always the case - some writers claim for example, to have just woken up with an idea and knocked it out in a week/month/year.

Make of that what you will in terms of what they write I suppose.

I find it difficult because I want to aways be as good as or better than writers I read.

I consider what I read to be high quality - so there must be a corresponding difficulty in reaching that level - or else I would have managed it already.

Equally though, I suspect I would find it as difficult to write something I don't 'want' to write - if you see what I mean.

In other words, it would be as hard for me to equal Ulysses as it would be for me to write Lark Rise to Candleford or The Bitch or Riders etc etc.

Does 'wanting' to write one book over another make it easier?

I suspect I will only ever write what I 'can' write - what I am 'able to' write - rather than what I desire to write - regardless of my ambition or any objective/external assessment of difficulty/quality.

It's not easy - that's for sure.

HarrietVane99 Tue 29-Dec-15 18:12:21

I'm not sure I know what my 'best' work is!

I do find that the beginning and end of a novel are the easiest parts. It's the middle part, when the first enthusiasm has worn off, and the end isn't yet in sight, that's the hard slog. Emma Darwin, who has some great advice for writers on her website, says 30,000 words is the point at which many writers hit a wall. I think the test with the new novel will be how you progress beyond the first 75 pages.

I also find I have a tendency to over think. I'll spend ages agonising over how to write a scene, when the thing to do is just to sit down and write it and worry about editing later.

Could it be that the experience you gained with the first book is now paying off with the second? Or maybe, if the first book is the first extended piece of writing you've done, you're not yet experienced enough to handle something more complex?

I do think you should keep on with the first one, though. You'll learn more about yourself as a writer by pushing on and finishing it.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now