“Dying is easy, comedy is hard” is purportedly a deathbed quote attributed to character actor Edmund Gwenn. It is a very famous line used by lots of comedians. When director and screenwriter George Seaton visited Gwenn as he lay in bed ill, George Seaton said to Gwenn, “This must be terribly difficult for you.” Edmund Gwenn is supposed to have replied, “Not nearly as difficult as playing comedy.” Whereupon Gwenn died.
I’m going to suggest a variation on that theme, to wit: Writing is hard. Here’s a test that works even better for non-writers. Sit in front of a computer, open Microsoft Word or another program, and look at the screen until you can think of something meaningful to write. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
I’m not alone in this position, but there is hope. “Bad news/good news: writing a book will always be hard, and the best piece of writing software in the world won’t write your book for you. But the good news is there is book writing software that can make the process a little easier.” This is a terrific post from The Write Practice that illustrates that technology actually can help set you free. For me, anything that reduces the distance between what’s in my head and what’s on my screen is a bonus. Full disclosure: I’m a Scrivener man with a Microsoft Word topspin, and I use and recommend Apple products.
Tough, right? Sure, we can bang on the keys all day just to get words down (and honestly, that’s an acceptable way to get started on a project), but can you write something? I deny the ability every time I start typing.
That said, I firmly believe more people should write. Something. Anything. The simple act of putting thoughts in order and relating to them on a “page” (I do still know a couple of folks who write in longhand on actual paper) is cathartic and reinvigorating. You should think about trying it.
Start a blog. Write your memoir. Draft a family history. Writing is one of those tasks that typically respond well to repetition. The more you do it, the more you can do it.