Most non-writers assume that writing is a joyful business, that the writer sits down with the beloved muse upon his shoulder and takes off on a grand adventure, fingers barely able to keep up with the flow of words and ideas. When completed, his work is released to wild applause and accolades. Writing is fun!

This is a false narrative.

Writing is gruesome. It’s terrifying. For the writer, there is nothing more daunting than the blank page when a really amazing idea is percolating. It’s one thing for him to *think* about what a great story he has brewing…it’s quite another to tackle putting actual words on paper. The blank page means he hasn’t failed yet at conveying his idea. The blank page means possibility, and promise. But the instant he writes one single goddamn word, it’s over. He’s committed. And his thoughts are either going to carry his golden dream to its satisfying conclusion, or it’s all going to grind to a halt and explode in a chaos of confusion and disappointment.

To write is to risk it all.

It’s wildly exciting for him, sure, when the words are flowing and he’s giggling helplessly at his brilliance…but these moments are fleeting and far between. For the serious writer, writing is work. Hard, teeth-clenched, devastating, wrenching, and brutal work. The more the words eviscerate and ruin him, the better the writing becomes. And so the writer lays himself bare to the world, plumbing the depths of his psyche to bring something forth that will encourage contemplation, or foster community, or entertain, or even just tickle a fancy.

It’s work. He has to screw his courage up every single day to sit down and try again, taking criticism, and rejection, and ridicule, and stuffing them all down into a tiny crevasse in his soul just so he can write one more word. One word. One word that might change the world, or even the world for one single person.

The next time you read something that touches you, think about writing a little review, or passing the work on to someone else, or mentioning it in conversation with a friend.

Writing is a lonely and scary business. Be gentle with the writer. He is trying his best to make sense out of this seemingly senseless world.