Writing is hard work

26 Apr

The title basically says it all; writing is hard work. It truly is which is also one of the bigger reasons why I will never become a decent writer despite how much I wish I would. Wishing doesn’t get you anywhere though, only effort and hard labour will do the trick and we all know that I am as lazy as a person can be.

Why am I telling you all this? I’m currently in full-blown thesis writing mode and it really shows me the shortcomings of my writing abilities. While academic writing does not equal creative writing my problems are the same. First and foremost is my limited vocabulary. I sound like a fourth-grader who ingested a thesaurus. I love to write the words just as they flow in my mind and that’s fine for this blog but doesn’t work for anything that’s going to be held to a higher standard. I know loanwords and am happy to use them as I hope it shows I’m not a complete moron while most of the words I put on paper sound so blah.

Another thing that’s really difficult for me is staring at a blank page, trying to come up with sentences. Nothing is worse than staring down a blank page while your mind decided it’s the perfect moment to go blank. I despise getting to the first draft stage, after that it gets much easier for me. Never mind that I spend most of today re-writing entire paragraphs because they weren’t any good. It’s still so much easier to just edit something after you put the general idea into words; reshaping and forming the sentences into something worthwhile.

Then there is the language problem that shouldn’t be a problem for me at all. I’m writing my thesis in German which should be fine, no big deal. But it is. I find myself multiple times a day having the perfect english phrasing on my mind and failing to find a proper translation that conveys exactly the same. This is completely messed up since German is my native language, it shouldn’t be an issue but it is. I guess that day about 5 years ago when I couldn’t for the life of me remember the German word for umbrella was a sign that it’s only going downhill from there.

I’m now about 24 pages into my thesis. It’s ok, it could be worse and the last three days were quite productive. What else this thesis-writing experiment is showing me is that I just have to sit it out. Keep in front of that damn PC and write. I take many breaks to go on Twitter, Tumblr, any newspaper site I care about or walk up three flights of stairs to the farthest ladies room to get my mind unstuck. Moving around helps me clear my head as does focussing on something mind-numbing for a little while. In the end I have to get back to the writing though to get that pesky first draft out there. It’s like breaking the ice when you meet someone new, the beginning is really difficult and afterwards it gets more comfortable and easy. Writing about a specific topic is like getting to know a stranger. The more you think about it, the more involved you two become until things fall into place because you suddenly realise what it’s all about.

I’m dreading the empty chapters that are yet awaiting me but I also feel like I’m finally going somewhere, moving forward, not solely in time but also in regards to where my life is supposed to head. A little over a month and I’ll be done with studying for good, I’ll be able to travel, spend my summer on and around my favourite theater stage and look for a job. I haven’t felt useless the last couple of days, it felt more like accomplishing something even if it’s as stupid as finally getting the bottom line of your thesis question. I also know where I want to work, or at least I think I do, which is a huge deal for me as I didn’t know this at the beginning of this year.

All in all, I feel good right now which makes me happy since I spend a lot of time complaining about my thesis. It’s just the way I handle things. I don’t know how but the complaining is a part of my work routine, always has been and probably always will be.


8 Responses to “Writing is hard work”

  1. Addie May 6, 2013 at 16:00 #

    When one’s mind really does decide to go blank for the time being, contesting it is most of the time up to no good. Still I wish you all the best in your thesis. Cliche but, YOU CAN DO IT!

    • WillieSun May 9, 2013 at 13:55 #

      Thanks, I can do it, I just have to sit still long enough, lol. When my mind is really, really blank, moving helps me a lot, so I’ll just go to the ladies room that’s farthest away and take the long route back :D

  2. viveka April 26, 2013 at 22:05 #

    I found German one of the most difficult languages to learn, French second. The gramma is terrible with all the der, die, das … *smile – you should maybe start a blog in German. Good luck and have a nice weekend. Didn’t know that your native language is German. Your English are fantastic.

    • WillieSun April 28, 2013 at 18:33 #

      German is a real pain in the arse to learn. I mean, I grew up with it but I still have problems with the grammar.

      Nah, I wouldn’t know what to write a German blog for, I process too many things in my daily life in English. Also, blogging in English means a larger possible audience :)

  3. Charleen April 26, 2013 at 05:07 #

    I never went any farther than undergrad so the longest paper I ever had to write was probably 10 pages at the outside. Still… I found writing papers so much easier after doing NaNoWriMo my senior year, because I just applied my NaNo technique — basically, write anything no matter how stupid — to my academic writing. And then once I had all my ideas down I could turn it all into a coherent paper… rephrase it and shape it and even edit it down because it was too long. So, that’s my solution for the blank page. Just fill it with ANYTHING and suddenly the rest becomes much easier.

    Good luck getting it done.

    • WillieSun April 28, 2013 at 18:35 #

      That’s what I’m learning now too, just fill the blank page with anything that comes to mind and edit it later. I’ve never done NaNoWriMo mostly due to lack of time. I want to try it once though.

      Thanks, it has to be done so it will. Probably with a lot of bitching on my part during the next 4 weeks but whatever.

  4. AbsentElemental April 26, 2013 at 03:48 #

    I find the line about you forgetting the word for umbrella in German somewhat common for people I’ve known who speak their second language actively. One of my undergraduate professors in college was from Argentina, but moved to the USA to teach Spanish in college. Occasionally, he’d forget the phrase he was looking for in Spanish, then go off in a cruse-laden rant (in both English and Spanish) about how frustrating knowing two languages was. I found it entertaining at the time.

    • WillieSun April 28, 2013 at 18:37 #

      Yep, but that umbrella thing was a couple of years ago when I was still in high school and not using English as much as I am now.

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