I enjoy writing. I like words, and I like sentences. I even appreciate grammar. But none of that means I will produce good writing. Good writing is just plain difficult to do.
The other day I was re-reading my favorite pure prose writer, Annie Dillard, and she reminded me of the monumental task that is writing, just how difficult a few good sentences can be to find. Considering the average production rate of various published authors, Dillard observes:
“If a full-time writer averages a book every five years, that makes seventy-three usable pages a year, or a usable fifth of a page a day.”
Think about that, a usable fifth of a page a day. The speed of quality is slow.
Elsewhere, Dillard quips, “Out of a human population on earth of four and a half billion, perhaps twenty people can write a serious book in a year. Some people lift cars, too…Some people feel no pain in childbirth.” Point taken! Writing well is a hard and long process. The prolific writers are exceptions not rules.
If you’re an average blogger like me, or a student typing papers or a pastor writing sermons, be encouraged. What you are undertaking really is as difficult as it seems.
(If you would like to stoke your writing vision and abilities, be sure to check out The Writing Life by Annie Dillard.)