Bleeding on the page

I think my students still believe that if you are good at writing, it should be easy. Right up there with the belief that some people are just born good writers, there’s also the belief that skill = lack of effort.

I just gave my students an assignment in which they were to write an analysis of a passage from Huck Finn. One (very bright) student bemoaned how hard it is to get the words out. “I have the ideas in my head,” she said, “but it’s torture to get them down on the page.”

I hear her. I was writing along with the class and felt pretty much the same way. The difference between the two of us is I didn’t expect it to be easy. It’s occurred to me that perhaps the most significant way I’ve grown as a writer is my acceptance that writing is almost always hard.

“There is nothing to writing,” Hemingway said. “All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.”