There’s an abundance of blogs, motivational speeches, and lies we tell ourselves about doing what we love and not wasting our time on things we hate. Statements like, “if today was your last day, you wouldn’t want to be wasting it on _____.” On a large, broad scale, I agree with these statements. I’ve lived them too. I was in the wrong degree program for almost two years, and I hated every single day of school. When I finally was able to acknowledge what was making me unhappy, I could see I was in the wrong program and I switched into something that suited me a lot better. So clearly, there’s some truth to the statements about doing what you love.
But on the day-to-day level, that statement is crap.
There will always be things in life we don’t like to do. Personally, dishes, taking out the garbage, budgeting, and going to the dentist are all examples of things I don’t like to do. But if I were to avoid them, simply because I didn’t want to waste my life doing things I didn’t like, I’d be messy, broke, and unhealthy. The same comparison applies to my university example. Even in the program I am currently in, which I love, and the industry I will one day be a part of, there are requirements that I don’t like.
I don’t like them because they are hard for me. They are boring. They are stupid. I’d rather spend my time doing what I love, working towards my career, or spending time with people important to me. But at the end of the day, those requirements need to be met. The work needs to get done.
This directly applies to writing too. There is something so exciting and awesome about The New Idea. The days lost to flushing out the wisp of an idea into a larger concept, the writing when it’s fresh: that’s why I love to write.
Editing, however, is kind of like going to the dentist or taking out the garbage. Just like getting the new toothbrush from the dentist, there’s an inherent reward in the revision process: you’re making your work better. But it isn’t as sexy or inspiring as the first writing stages are. I am a passionate writer, but I can tell you that by my tenth pass through a manuscript, the passion has dulled to a barely-there spark.
But all the same: to be a writer, to be successful in anything and everything you do, you need to do the work once the passion goes away. If we’re lucky, the passion will return at a later stage, but during the tough times, you just need to get through it.
Happy editing 🙂