Simple is Hard

Simple is Hard

I often hear, “I’m not a writer…can you do this for me?”

Most writers do not simply sit down, channel their inner Tolstoy, and churn out brilliance from start to finish. It takes effort.

Imagine dumping a box of one thousand puzzle pieces on a large table, and putting the puzzle together without seeing the cover photo (some people do this for fun!). You match finite edges, similar colors, and interlocking shapes. Eventually, the picture shows itself, piece by piece.

Writing can be a similar exercise. The pieces are in your head. Sometimes you have to shake it to get them all out. The initial pile is just that: a random pile of thoughts. Some are bent, peeling or dusty. It’s up to you to smooth them out and put the pieces together. It can take a while. In fact, it should.

It’s much easier to write stream-of-consciousness than it is to distill information and make it clear and concise for others. Good writers keep in mind that someone else will be reading their work, and aim to make their ideas as clear as possible. It’s like every other form of artwork: it evolves gradually, until you, the artist, determine it’s done. Removing half of the words you initially wrote is a good sign that you’re doing the hard work. Eventually, it gets easier to discern the sky from the mountain tops, and paint a clear picture to others.

The first step to becoming more comfortable writing is to be OK with capturing half-baked (or cookie dough) ideas, then reworking the content making it easy for your readers to understand.

  • Alan Miller
    Posted at 12:11h, 18 April

    “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” –Mark Twain.

    This is one of my favorite quotes that seems so fitting for this blog post.